,

Metacognition: How Thinking About Thinking Can Help Kids

A powerful skill for building resilience

Metacognition is a big word for something most of us do every day without even noticing: Thinking about our own thoughts. Reflecting on our thoughts is a big part of understanding our feelings and learning new things.When kids hit challenges — a hard math test, a fight with a friend — it can be tempting for them to give up. But in order to thrive, kids need to be able to go from “I can’t” to “How can I?” Metacognition can help.


When kids hit difficult problems — the seemingly insurmountable English essay, a math test that takes on epic proportions, social struggles that leave them feeling frustrated — it can be tempting to give up and resort to four words no parent ever wants to hear: “I can’t do it.”

In order to thrive, kids need to be able to make the transition from the negative “I can’t” to the proactive  “How can I?”

To do that, they need to think about why they’re stuck, what’s frustrating them, what they would need to get unstuck. They need to think about their own thinking.

There’s a word for that, and it’s metacognition.

Metacognition is a big word for something most of us do every day without even noticing. Reflecting on our own thoughts is how we gain insight into our feelings, needs, and behaviors — and how we learn, manage, and adapt to new experiences, challenges, and emotional setbacks. It’s the running conversation we have in our heads, mentally sounding ourselves out and making plans. Training kids to use it proactively to overcome obstacles, it turns out, can be a powerful tool.

More and more studies are suggesting that kids who are taught to use metacognitive strategies early on are more resilient and more successful, both in and out of school.

“I view metacognition as a goal,” says Marc Gladstone, alearning specialist. “Getting into the habit of using metacognitive strategies early on helps kids become more independent learners and bolsters self-advocacy skills.”
What is metacognition and how does it work?
“Metacognitive thinking teaches us about ourselves,” says Tamara Rosier, a learning coach who specializes in metacognitive techniques. “Thinking about our thinking creates perspective — perspective that leaves room for change.”

She gives an example: “Instead of saying, ‘Math tests make me anxious,’ we’re asking ourselves, ‘What is it about math tests that makes me feel anxious and what can I do to change that?’ ”

Kids who are taught to think of themselves as being “good” or “bad” at a particular task can have a fixed mindset that makes them passive in approaching a challenge: either they can do it or they can’t, but they aren’t likely to think they can change that outcome.

Teaching kids to become more metacognitive helps them move from a mindset that leaves little room for change to a mindset which promotes self-awareness and resilience.

Help for kids with learning issues
Helping your child learn to work through difficult situations (or homework assignments, as the case may be) without becoming overwhelmed or giving up is especially valuable for kids with learning issues who may need to come up with different strategies than other students in the class.

For example:

A child with ADHD who struggles to stay on task is likely to feel frustrated and anxious when he’s assigned a long essay. If he’s unable to reflect on why the project upsets him he might think, “Everyone else is having an easy time. I’m just bad at writing.”
A kid who’s learned to reflect on his own learning process, on the other hand, could look at the situation and say, “I always feel like this when I have to work for a long time. Maybe if I take breaks every hour or so I’ll feel less stressed out.” By taking a metacognitive approach, he’s able to manage his frustration and find a better way to approach big assignments in the future.
Great for self-regulation
Metacognitive skills are not only excellent tools for kids who learn differently, and often find themselves struggling to keep up. They also enable kids to self-regulate when faced with challenges, especially unexpected ones.

“One of the most powerful byproducts of metacognitive thinking is increased self-regulation,” says Gladstone.

Being able to self-regulate helps kids manage experiences that might otherwise overwhelm them. For example, take two girls who have to audition for a school play, both of whom are struggling with unusually difficult material.

A girl who is regularly told how talented she is and is used to being praised for her performances is likely to get frustrated and overwhelmed at the sheer thought of performing badly.

But a girl who is praised for her ability to work hard and persevere when she’s faced with a challenge can draw on her metacognitive skills to help her manage her nerves and help her figure out a way of rehearsing that works better for her.

Quieting negative self-talk
Fallout from a fixed mindset often takes the form of self-criticism. The negative feelings kids experience when they feel frustrated easily turn into negative self-talk. “If I’m so smart, why did I fail the test? I’m not smart. I’m useless.”

“When you place your value on being ‘smart,’ anything that makes you feel less than smart is devastating,” says Rosier. “A lot of kids develop a negative inner voice, and they develop it in place of metacognition.”

This negative voice is sneaky, she explains, often masquerading as a coach. “You can mistake self-criticism for motivation. What we want to do is get rid of the negative inner voice and replace it with metacognitive thinking that helps your child find new ways to manage her challenges instead of beating herself up about them.”

How to encourage metacognition 
How do you help your child start becoming more meta?” Metacognitive questions, says Rosier, will help your child begin thinking in a more reflective way. Questions should be:

Open-ended. Give your child some space to reflect on his thinking: Can you tell me more about why you think that?
Non-blaming. It can be hard to stay open when kids are acting out, but asking them to think about their behavior can help them learn to manage difficult situations in a better way: Why do you think you got so upset when Dad changed the channel?
Solution-focused. Encourage him to think about how he can use his understanding to change things in the future: How could you handle that differently next time?
Process-oriented. Ask questions that help your child get a better idea of how his thought process works: How will you know when this drawing is finished?
Be patient
“When you teach kids to think about their behavior differently, they begin to behave differently,” says Rosier. But she warns that it’s important not to expect instant results. Learning to think metacognitively is a process, and parents may have to accept that a lot of the work is happening behind the scenes.

“Of course we want to see progress, but our children — especially teenagers — don’t always share their thinking with us and that’s okay.”

Just asking the questions gets the metacognitive work going internally, even if it’s not visible to the parental eye, Rosier explains. The benefits are the same, she says, even if all you get is a grunt in return.

Learning to learn
Asking questions at home will help kids begin to use metacognitive strategies in their schoolwork, too. For many kids — especially those with learning differences  — this can be harder than it sounds. It’s easy to get bogged down by poor study habits, procrastination, homework meltdowns, and test stress.

If your child is struggling to work through a long paper, ask questions that help him use his metacognitive skills to try a different approach.

What do you think is making it hard for you to work on this paper right now?
What are some strategies that have helped you do well on similar papers in the past?
Can you use those insights to help you with the work you’re doing now?
Asking metacognitive questions will help him clarify his process, manage his anxiety, and find a better way to approach his paper, but the benefits don’t end when the assignment is done.

The more your child is able to understand his learning process the easier it will be for him to figure out what strategies and supports work best for him — knowledge that will help him succeed — both now and as he grows up.

Link:https://childmind.org/article/how-metacognition-can-help-kids/
53 replies
  1. Fateme Hemmati
    Fateme Hemmati says:

    Metacognition can help to understand better, learn better, achieve better academic results, and more importantly, make informed and intelligent decisions in life. The development of metacognitive awareness is also important for social life

    Reply
  2. Aida fallah zadeh
    Aida fallah zadeh says:

    Exactly educating kids to become more meticulous helps them move out of a mindset and cause awareness and resistance.

    Reply
  3. Aida fallah zadeh
    Aida fallah zadeh says:

    Effective thinking learning always controls stress by reducing doubts about victory.

    Reply
  4. Aida fallah zadeh
    Aida fallah zadeh says:

    Hi professor. In my opinion, patience and all aspects of thinking can make progress when thinking.

    Reply
  5. ghazal moulayi poor
    ghazal moulayi poor says:

    Hello Professor, the article was interesting and thought-provoking. In my opinion, parents play an important role in this process. They can teach metacognitive thinking to children just by asking open-ended questions that give kids space to reflect.

    Reply
  6. مبینا محمدزاده
    مبینا محمدزاده says:

    Hello Professor It was a thought-provoking article.I think kids are constantly learning. and we can teach them meta_cognitive behaviors by creating a safe and secure environment.Thank you for your useful essay i appreciate it.

    Reply
  7. Setayesh bolhari
    Setayesh bolhari says:

    In my opinion, metacognition helps us to know more about ourselves and reduce our stress in dealing with issues

    Reply
  8. Setayesh bolhari
    Setayesh bolhari says:

    I think this method can really help to improve learning process for kids specially for ADHD kids

    Reply
  9. Reyhane Najafgholizade
    Reyhane Najafgholizade says:

    It was wonderful and sooo useful sir
    Thank you
    I really enjoyed it🙏🏻

    Reply
  10. Rezvan Vaghefi
    Rezvan Vaghefi says:

    Hello Dr.
    I think this method can really help to improve learning process for kids specially for ADHD kids.

    Reply
  11. Mohadese salimzade
    Mohadese salimzade says:

    Metacognition is an important topic that helps us know ourselves well. And to be able to keep our composure in problems. In relation to children, because they are constantly learning and since they have a very strong memory, so that your smallest behavior may affect the child and make him want to do it. Therefore, education in the family is the most important part that you should take time for. Thank you for your article

    Reply
  12. کیمیا احمدوند
    کیمیا احمدوند says:

    During life, many bitter and unfortunate events happen and we must tell ourselves why this happened and look for the reason and focus on the cause of the disability.

    Reply
  13. کیمیا احمدوند
    کیمیا احمدوند says:

    During life, many bitter and unfortunate things happen and we have to tell ourselves why this happened and look for the reason to give up and focus on the cause of the inability.

    Reply
  14. Shifteh Arshian
    Shifteh Arshian says:

    Hello sir
    I am working with kids as their English teacher and i really believe the things in this essay are necessary for us to know how to treat our children and how to raise them.
    I believe children are the future makers and whatever you do will affect them so you should be careful about how to treat them and raise them
    Thank you for your useful essay i appreciate it.

    Reply
  15. Zahra bahram
    Zahra bahram says:

    It was a very interesting article because it was about the important metacognitive issue of how we can increase this skill in children. Planning and asking questions strengthen this skill and reduce negative self-talk in children.

    Reply
  16. hadis torkamandi
    hadis torkamandi says:

    I have passed many effective and useful psychology courses with you and I am grateful

    Reply
  17. Hediyeh Masoumi
    Hediyeh Masoumi says:

    Many bad things happen to us and it is important for us to know how to forget that incident and to be able to understand why we are sad and to make changes in ourselves and to be able to find recognition on our personality.

    Reply
  18. Razie nazari rad
    Razie nazari rad says:

    kids are constantly learning. and we can teach them meta_cognitive behaviors by creating a safe and secure environment. 

    Reply
  19. Mohadeseh mohseni
    Mohadeseh mohseni says:

    I think this method can really help to improve learning process for kids specially for ADHD kids

    Reply
  20. Mohadeseh mohseni
    Mohadeseh mohseni says:

    Metacognition is the process of thinking about thinking. It’s about examining how we take in and process information, and figuring out ways we can do that more efficiently so i think it can be very useful for kids

    Reply
  21. Fateme Kamandi
    Fateme Kamandi says:

    According to this article, we can use metacognition to control the situation and remove obstacles that hinder our work and make things more difficult for us, and we should learn to face problems instead of letting them go by saying I can’t. Let’s focus on the cause of the disability and fix it

    Reply
  22. Soudabeh Ashoori
    Soudabeh Ashoori says:

    Hello. I am soudabeh ashoori. I am your student. I think kids are constantly learning. and we can teach them meta_cognitive behaviors by creating a safe and secure environment. to answer the questions by accepting self acceptance. and the ferrinan not to say may way

    Reply
  23. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hello Professor, I just finished this article, I must say that my interest in metacognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article. Metacognitive questions and metacognitive thinking can help us a lot to overcome the challenges as stated in the article. It can also change the way we think so that we can change how we feel and behave. This was very helpful. Thank you. Now I know that for mental flourishing we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.also changing our mindset about ourselves and others can really help us live better and understand things the way they are, not the negative way we want to see them.

    Reply
  24. Vafaii nasim
    Vafaii nasim says:

    In my opinion, metacognition helps us to know more about ourselves and reduce our stress in dealing with issues.

    Reply
  25. Fatemeh alizadeh
    Fatemeh alizadeh says:

    It was a thought-provoking article. Metacognition is an important issue in which children in our society have a fundamental weakness. By cultivating metacognitive skills, which include self-planning, self-regulation, self-reflection, self-evaluation, and self-monitoring, and learning these things should be based on the family. And in my opinion, the foundation of all this is to strengthen the child’s self-confidence from an early age. Thank you, dear teacher, for the useful information

    Reply
  26. Fatemeh alizadeh
    Fatemeh alizadeh says:

    It was a thought-provoking article. Metacognition is an important issue in which children in our society have a fundamental weakness. By cultivating metacognitive skills, which include self-planning, self-regulation, self-reflection, self-evaluation, and self-monitoring, and learning these things should be based on the family. And in my opinion, the foundation of all this is to strengthen the child’s self-confidence from an early age. Thank you, dear teacher, for the useful information.

    Reply
  27. Noushin
    Noushin says:

    Children should not say I can’t do something, but they should look for a way to do something
    Metacognitive techniques are one of the ways that children become more successful
    I think all of us humans should use this solution
    When we tell someone that your work is unique, they will be disappointed by the thought of a bad performance
    We have to say goodbye to the negative voice in our mind

    Reply
  28. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hello Professor, I just finished this article, I must say that my interest in metacognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article. Metacognitive questions and metacognitive thinking can help us a lot to overcome the challenges as stated in the article. It can also change the way we think so that we can change how we feel and behave. This was very helpful. Thank you. Now I know that for mental flourishing we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.

    Reply
  29. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hello Professor, I just finished this article, I must say that my interest in metacognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article. Metacognitive questions and metacognitive thinking can help us a lot to overcome the challenges as stated in the article. It can also change the way we think so that we can change how we feel and behave. This was very helpful. Thank you. Now I know that for mental flourishing we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.

    Reply
  30. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hello Professor, I just finished this article, I must say that my interest in metacognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article. Metacognitive questions and metacognitive thinking can help us a lot to overcome the challenges as stated in the article. It can also change the way we think so that we can change how we feel and behave. This was very helpful. Thank you. Now I know that for mental flourishing we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.And also I know that Changing negative mindsets about ourselves and other things can help us live a healthy life

    Reply
  31. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hello Professor, I just finished this article, I must say that my interest in metacognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article. Metacognitive questions and metacognitive thinking can help us a lot to overcome the challenges as stated in the article. It can also change the way we think so that we can change how we feel and behave. This was very helpful. Thank you. Now I know that for mental flourishing we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.And also I know that Changing negative mindsets about ourselves and other things can help us live better and more enjoyable

    Reply
  32. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hi professor,I just finished this essay now,I have to say my interest in meta cognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article.meta cognitive questioning and meta cognitive thinking can help us a lot to go through challenges as the article states.it can also change how we think so that we can change how we feel and behave.that was very useful.thanks.I now understand that for thriving mentally we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.And also changing mindset about ourselves and our environment can help us live healthier and more enjoyable.

    Reply
  33. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hi professor,I just finished this essay now,I have to say my interest in meta cognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article.meta cognitive questioning and meta cognitive thinking can help us a lot to go through challenges as the article states.it can also change how we think so that we can change how we feel and behave.that was very useful.thanks.I now understand that for thriving mentally we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.And also changing mindset about ourselves and our environment can help us live healthier and more enjoyable and effective.

    Reply
  34. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hi professor,I just finished this essay now,I have to say my interest in meta cognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article.meta cognitive questioning and meta cognitive thinking can help us a lot to go through challenges as the article states.it can also change how we think so that we can change how we feel and behave.that was very useful.thanks.I now understand that for thriving mentally we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.And also changing mindset about ourselves and our environment can help us live healthier and more effective and have more control over our life.

    Reply
  35. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hi professor,I just finished this essay now,I have to say my interest in meta cognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article.meta cognitive questioning and meta cognitive thinking can help us a lot to go through challenges as the article states.it can also change how we think so that we can change how we feel and behave.that was very useful.thanks.I now understand that for thriving mentally we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.And also changing mindset about ourselves,others and our environment can help us live healthier and more effective.

    Reply
  36. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hi professor,I just finished this essay now,I have to say my interest in meta cognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article.meta cognitive questioning and meta cognitive thinking can help us a lot to go through challenges as the article states.it can also change how we think so that we can change how we feel and behave.that was very useful.thanks.I now understand that for thriving mentally we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.And also changing mindset about ourselves,others and our environment can help us live better and healthier.

    Reply
  37. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hi professor,I just finished this essay now,I have to say my interest in meta cognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article.meta cognitive questioning and meta cognitive thinking can help us a lot to go through challenges as the article states.it can also change how we think so that we can change how we feel and behave.that was very useful.thanks.I now understand that for thriving mentally we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.And also changing mindset about ourselves and our environment can help us live healthier and more effective.

    Reply
  38. Arshiya Farhangi
    Arshiya Farhangi says:

    Hi professor,I just finished this essay now,I have to say my interest in meta cognitive therapy has increased a lot after this article.meta cognitive questioning and meta cognitive thinking can help us a lot to go through challenges as the article states.it can also change how we think so that we can change how we feel and behave.that was very useful.thanks.I now understand that for thriving mentally we need to think about our thoughts and feelings.

    Reply
  39. فاطمه سرحدی
    فاطمه سرحدی says:

    The learner must have developed physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc. so that learning can be done well. If some aspects of preparation are not acquired, learning will be boring and boring and not much progress will happen.

    Reply
  40. Sevda_jafari
    Sevda_jafari says:

    Some others believe that it is impossible to teach children to think. This opinion is completely wrong! Critical and creative thinking is a skill, and understandable. However, it is there to teach and learn; Children and teenagers of the current generation have less analytical power and mental powers to solve their problems than in the past. Many factors have also contributed to limiting the scope of children’s thinking. Various factors, some of which are the fault of the child and sometimes the fault of the parents. In addition, families are also blamed for other factors such as school, technology, the loss of fundamental values ​​and their replacement with the anomalies of modern society.

    Reply
  41. Sevda.jafari
    Sevda.jafari says:

    Some others believe that it is impossible to teach children to think. This opinion is completely wrong! Critical and creative thinking is a skill, and understandable. However, it is there to teach and learn; Children and teenagers of the current generation have less analytical power and mental powers to solve their problems than in the past. Many factors have also contributed to limiting the scope of children’s thinking. Various factors, some of which are the fault of the child and sometimes the fault of the parents. In addition, families are also blamed for other factors such as school, technology, the loss of fundamental values ​​and their replacement with the anomalies of modern society.

    Reply
  42. Armina Armansharif
    Armina Armansharif says:

    It is good for parents to teach their children to change their negative thoughts into positive thoughts so that they don’t give up in front of the problems they face in the future.Children who are very curious and ask questions will deal with problems in the future and act very independently.

    Reply
  43. Atiyeh soleymanian memandi
    Atiyeh soleymanian memandi says:

    Hello then,metacognitive knowledge is related to a person’s knowledge about himself and cognition .These abilities help a person in acquiring, maintaining and using knowledge correctly.Metacognitive experiences are emotional and cognitive experiences that are related to cognitive action. These experiences may be expressed consciously

    Reply
  44. Atiyeh soleymanian memandi
    Atiyeh soleymanian memandi says:

    Hello then,metacognitive knowledge is related to a person’s knowledge about himself and cognition.These abilities help a person in acquiring, maintaining and using knowledge correctly

    Reply
  45. Azadeh shokri
    Azadeh shokri says:

    Hi professor
    Ithink kids are constantly learning. and we can teach them meta_cognitive behaviors by creating a safe and secure environment. to answer the questions by accepting self acceptance. and the ferrinan not to say may way

    Reply

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