Why it’s ok for kids to change their mind
He said, “I love carrots”. With a sense of victory, I served my son carrots for dinner two days later and he exclaimed “I hate carrots”. One day he wants to take up tennis; the next day, he tells you he prefers music. Oh, the drama!
Much like Charlie Brown, a child’s mind seems to change minute to minute, day to day, week to week. It’s exhausting. And once they realise, they have this control, they milk it, to find out how far their new superpowers can go.
The notion of changing one's mind often comes with its fair share of guilt and shame. But I’d like to challenge the idea that changing your mind is some sort of undesirable behaviour or characteristic that immediately qualifies you as unreliable, careless, and indeterminate.
But, actually, kids changing their mind is good. Really good. It's a sign that they're learning. It doesn’t mean they don’t know what they want, but it means they are exposing themselves to more information, thus, rethinking what they once thought to come up with a new, maybe better, thought.
It's what scientists call ‘growing up’.
Changing your mind is, in fact, a necessary developmental milestone. When you learn new things, the tiny connectors in the brain, the neurons, make connection and form new neurons, thus making the brain stronger and smarter. So when a child changes their mind and wants to act on it, it’s a sign that his cognitive abilities have reached a stage where he can handle complexity. He is starting to connect dots or link the cause and effect between actions. The results of those actions enable children to see the relationship between their choices and the consequences of their behaviour.
I heard someone describe the relationship between knowledge and growth using the metaphor of an expanding circle. Your knowledge is represented by the inside of the circle, and everything you don't yet know is outside. As you learn more, you push the circle outward, increasing its area. But you also increase the circumference of the circle, therefore, increasing your contact with things you don't yet know. As kids, the circle of knowledge is quite small but when they question and in turn change their mind on the basis of new information, they are expanding this circle. I thought this was a great way to look at this.
Aristotle famously said, “The more you know, the more you realise you don’t know.”
So essentially, the only way to grow is to change your mind.
“By growing their knowledge, kids will allow themselves to dream bigger”, says Sushama Swarup, child psychologist and counsellor.
Imagine our world if the parents of Leonardo DaVinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs had told them to “stop changing their mind”. Evidence has shown that creative geniuses are not attached to one identity, but constantly willing to rethink their stances and that leaders who admit they don't know something are always willing to seek.
Consider this, changing your mind is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Changing your mind comes with some useful benefits. It helps keep your ego in check. It helps keep your curiosity and willingness to learn alive. And it helps you develop and maintain respect for others who maybe have taken the time to learn more about a topic about which you've only scratched the surface.
It’s important to recognize that sticking with something (particularly if you’re craving something totally different) doesn’t make you dedicated, loyal, or committed. No, it just makes you stuck.
So next time your child changes his mind, welcome the diversion and think about how you can help her expand that circle and bloom that flower!
I hope that I’ve changed your mind about changing your mind.
CEO & Founder of Toy Around, a company specialising in toys and games that are age appropriate. With the support of psychologists the company develops its own board games and card games in order to develop kids in the way they learn best: through play!
To discover which games Toy Around has created and developed, visit https://www.toyaround.io/pages/space-puppies