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Unlocking Flexible Thinking: Activities and Exercises for Preschoolers

Little Arya has a problem.

He has just signed up to learn how to play Music, in one of the most reputed music schools for early learners. Over the last few days, they have been learning to play the Piano. However, when he arrives there one day, he finds all the children with Violins!

When Arya is handed a violin, he sets it aside. His mind cannot ‘process’ this unprecedented ‘change in routine.’

If you have a child like Arya, there’s no cause for alarm. Even us adults struggle to ‘think outside the box’. We are so set in our ways of thinking, any alternative seems near-impossible.
What Arya seems to be struggling with, is ‘Flexible Thinking.’ In essence, Flexible Thinking entails ‘thinking about a problem in new ways.’ On the other hand, its opposite, Rigid Thinking, entails ‘being fixed in old modes of thinking.’

In this article, we will touch upon How to Develop Flexible Thinking. We will take a look at Flexible Thinking Activities for Preschoolers, that include some cool Flexible Thinking Exercises. You can rest assured, there’s plenty of ‘flexibility’ in the choices we have enlisted here.

Let’s begin, with a deeper understanding of Flexible Thinking.

Flexible Thinking: Basics

Have you ever been met with the phrase, ‘Think with an Open Mind’? It’s like someone telling you, ‘Think Flexibly.’ Needless to say, a person who can think with an open mind, is able to think about a particular problem, in different ways.

An example of flexible thinking:

Let’s visit the young Arya again, this time in his classroom. He opens his pencil box, only to find that his pencil point is broken. Now, if Arya was not a flexible thinker, he might just think that there’s nothing he can do about it, and not complete his classwork.

On the other hand, the following options ‘open up’ for him, if he thinks flexibly:

  • He borrows a pencil from Leela, his partner in class.
  • He uses the sharpener in his pencil box, to sharpen his broken pencil.

How to Develop Flexible Thinking: Flexible Thinking Activities for Preschoolers

In this section we have curated for you, some great ways to hone the abilities of preschoolers, to think flexibly.
Without any further ado, here are the best possible ways to harness Flexible Thinking.

Games of Strategy and Logic

All kids love to play games. Why not get them to play those that cultivate their cerebral thinking?

To do: All you have to do is tweak some of those commonly played games.
Example: When playing Snakes and Ladders, tell your child that this time round, they will go ‘up’ when bitten by a Snake, and ‘down’ when they reach a Ladder! This will make for one of those flexible thinking group activities that really packs a punch.

Being a Role Model for Flexibility

Children look up to their parents, tending to emulate them in every which way. Why not leverage this bit of information, to get them to follow the way you ‘think’?

To do: Show them that you’re not looking for an immediate ‘fix’ to a problem. For instance, if you have planned a party and all your friends bail out, don’t make a hue and cry about it. Instead, tell your kids that the entire family will go out for dinner instead!

Teaching them to drop Control

No matter how hard we try to get things exactly the way we want them to, they are bound to spin out of control at times.

To do: Tell your kids that they must know when to let go of that sense of ‘being in control at all times.’ That sometimes, it’s best to look for other options and important to accept responsibility, for only the things that we are able to control.

Tweaking Routines

Routines are an important part of everyone’s life, be it Adult or Child.

To do: It will help to change those routines at times. For instance, you might take them to the park, on a day when they are supposed to go to the library. This will help get your kids to understand that there are always alternatives to doing things.

Change Their Biases

It would help most adults to learn something from this one, too!

To do: See if there is a pattern to your child’s low moods. For instance, they might be taking the ‘suggestions’ that their elder siblings dish out to them, as ‘criticisms.’ Help them overcome those biases, and see things through a lens of Clarity.

Bending Rules

Rules are meant to be broken, right?

To do: Teach your child that while most rules are important and should not be broken, it’s all right if some lesser ones are.
Example: They can have some extra screen time, if they have been especially good!

Flexible Thinking Exercises with Books

Reading can be a great way to enforce Flexible Thinking in kids.

To do: Get a book that speaks of characters who have to make tough choices. A great choice would be ‘My Day is Ruined!: A Story Teaching Flexible Thinking’ by Bryan Smith. In it, the main character, Braden, finds himself face-to-face with several situations that don’t go his way. When reading such books, take breaks and ask your child how the characters might have done things differently.

Help them Brainstorm a ‘Plan B’

All of us adults have probably indulged in this exercise, time and again!

To do: Tell your kids that they must come up with a ‘Plan B’, in case things do not go their way.
Example: Plan A might entail their friends coming over for a playdate. In case the friends don’t come, Plan B will be activated. Namely, going to the swimming pool at the club!

At EuroKids, we are of the opinion that teaching kids to don those Flexible Thinking hats, is of utmost importance. Not only will it help them avert those tantrums if they don’t get something, it will also greatly boost their ability to make decisions.

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