Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Magical Thinking 'till age 8

A study from the University of Michigan found that children do not connect their beliefs and their behaviors until they make a cognitive leap around age 8. This has implications for parenting and teaching -- apparently helping kids "know" what they should do doesn't make it any easier for them to do it until age 8. The study doesn't provide a lot of concrete suggestions for helping younger children change behavior (other than a traditional carrrot/stick approach) and I wonder if it doesn't lay the groundwork for reflection to begin practicing it even before they can effectively do it on thier own, but it is useful to remember that when a young child fails to abstract or behave as they say they will, it is more about immaturity than a character flaw... The study also pointed out the ways that magical thinking could help young children, because they can still imagine themselves as "practically perfect in every way" which is a gateway for all kinds of possibility.

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