Why is questioning authority important for kids? Parenting educator and Piper+ Enza contributor Giselle Baumet explores how encouraging this behavior can help kids develop critical thinking skills and decision making abilities that will serve them throughout their lives.
“Why don’t you just take my word for it!” I said, getting annoyed at my 15-year-old that he wouldn’t just take my word as fact. We were having an intense discussion regarding social justice issues in the United States.
He responded, “Because you raised me to question authority, so why wouldn’t I ask you to give me resources and data for what you’re telling me?”
Touche, son, touche.
I have raised my children to question authority, which goes against the status quo. And so naturally, they challenge me.
You might be thinking, “Parenting is hard enough. So why would I add questioning me as part of it?” And if you are wondering this, I get it. However, let me explain.
As parents, we must equip our children with the skills they need to succeed. One of the most important skills we can teach them is confidently and respectfully questioning authority.
The ability to question authority is essential for children to develop into critical thinkers who can make informed decisions and challenge the status quo, especially when the status quo is no longer working.
The importance of questioning authority goes beyond just childhood development. It is a crucial aspect of critical thinking and decision making that will benefit children as adults.
This article will explore the benefits of questioning authority, the skills it develops, and how parents can encourage this behavior in their children. And yes, I will absolutely cover what to do when your child questions your authority.
Why Children Should Question Authority
Questioning authority helps children to develop critical thinking skills and become independent, self-reliant individuals.
When children question authority, they are not only gaining a deeper understanding of the world around them, but they are also developing their own opinions and beliefs. Even more so, their ability to question authority can lead to greater creativity, problem-solving skills, and decision making abilities.
Children who question authority are less likely to accept information blindly and more likely to seek out the truth for themselves. This helps them to develop a sense of agency and a strong sense of self. It also helps them avoid being influenced by false or harmful information, as they are more likely to evaluate the information they receive critically.
Similarly, questioning authority can help children develop a greater appreciation for diversity and respect for others. When children learn to question authority, they learn to appreciate different perspectives and respect the opinions of others, even if they disagree with them. This helps them become more tolerant and empathetic, which is essential for a healthy and inclusive society.
Benefits of Questioning Authority as Adults
The benefits of questioning authority do not stop when children become adults. The skills they develop as children will continue to serve them well into adulthood.
Adults who have been encouraged to question authority are more likely to have a greater sense of self and are more equipped to advocate for themselves confidently. This helps them to make informed decisions, a recent topic we’ve discussed in our previous article.
It also allows them to think critically about the information they receive and to avoid being influenced by false or harmful information.
In addition, adults who question authority are more likely to be creative and innovative. They are not afraid to challenge others and are more likely to come up with new and creative solutions to problems, which helps them succeed in their lives and positively impact the world.
Questioning authority can also help adults develop solid relationships and to lead more fulfilling lives. When adults question authority, they are more likely to respect the opinions of others and appreciate diversity. This helps them to build solid and respectful relationships with others and to lead more fulfilling lives.
Steps Parents Can Take to Encourage Questioning Authority
Now that we have explored the benefits of questioning authority, let’s look at the steps you can take to encourage this behavior in your children.
Model Questioning Authority: Children learn by example, and the best way to encourage them to question authority is to model this behavior yourself. Show them how to question authority respectfully and confidently, and they will learn to do the same.
Encourage Critical Thinking: Encourage your children to think critically about the information they receive. Teach them to question the information source and evaluate the evidence before accepting it as accurate. For example, for every fact my children find online, I will ask them to state their resources and to find quality resources for their data.
Cultivate Curiosity and Exploration: Encourage your children to explore the world around them and ask questions. Create an environment that allows them to be curious and to seek answers to their questions.
Foster Independence: Foster independence in your children by giving them the freedom to make their own choices and to learn from their mistakes. This will help them develop a sense of self and agency, encouraging them to question authority securely.
Foster Respect for Others: Teach your children to respect the opinions of others, even if they disagree with them. This will help them to develop a greater appreciation for diversity and to question authority in a respectful and non-threatening way.
How to Parent When Your Child Questions Your Authority
When children question their parents, it can be challenging. But it is a natural part of their development toward becoming independent individuals. So be proud if your child questions your authority. You’re doing something right!
The safe and secure ability to question their parents shows healthy growth.
Here are some things that parents can do to help their children through this process:
Listen to their concerns: When children question authority, you should listen to their concerns and understand why they are questioning your decisions. By doing so, you’ll show your child that their opinions matter.
Explain your reasoning: Children often question authority when they don’t understand the reasoning behind a decision. Therefore, you’ll need to explain your choices clearly and concisely. Doing so will help your child understand why certain rules and decisions are necessary and give them a better understanding of their parent’s perspective.
Encourage open dialogue: Parents should encourage open dialogue and allow their children to express their opinions freely. This creates a healthy and respectful environment for communication, and children will feel valued and heard.
Be flexible: Be flexible and consider your children’s perspectives. Parents should consider changing their decisions if their children make valid arguments. This helps children to understand they have a say in their lives.
Offer guidance: Parents should offer their children guidance and support when they question authority. This can help children navigate the process of challenging authority in a healthy way and find solutions that work for everyone involved.
Set boundaries: While it’s important for parents to encourage their children to question authority, they should also set boundaries. Children need to understand that some rules and decisions are non-negotiable, and they must follow them. This helps to create structure and stability in the family.
In conclusion, raising children who can confidently and respectfully question authority is essential for their development and future success.
It helps them to develop critical thinking skills, a sense of self and agency, creativity, and respect for others.
As parents, we can encourage this behavior by modeling questioning authority, encouraging critical thinking, fostering independence, and fostering respect for others.
By taking these steps, we can help our children become confident and thriving adults who can make informed decisions and challenge the status quo.
Giselle Baumet is a Certified Life Coach, positive parenting educator, herbalist, aromatherapist, hypnotherapist, mental health educator, and more. She is also a Piper + Enza expert contributor. Learn more about her work at gisellebaumet.com.