Think, Think, Think

Help Your Children Learn to Take Ownership 

of Their Thinking

Barbara Cheney

April 24, 2024

You’ve probably seen the picture of Winnie the Pooh with his paw to his head and his face screwed up like a prune, as he tells himself, “Think, think, think.” 

For more years than I would like to remember, I know I was the one who was doing the thinking, and not our children. I was a “reminding Momma” and it was frustrating. I did not know how to transfer ownership of thinking from “my brain” to theirs, without telling them specifics. One weekend, however, I learned how to do this, and it changed my approach completely. 

Even as the years have passed and I teach 8-12th grade English, I have helped my students in the classroom learn how to take ownership of their thinking. When a 9th grader would tell me, “I don’t have a pencil,” I would tell them, “That is a great declarative sentence!” And then I’d keep on teaching. They had expected me to solve their “problem” and that was not my job. They would come back again, perhaps in a louder voice or asking “What should I do?” And I would reply, “That is a great interrogative!” And it would finally dawn on them that I was not going to solve their problem. They would finally ask, “May I borrow a pencil from the pencil can?” And I would reply, “That sounds like a great plan. Any other options you considered as you sat and thought?” 

As class days would progress, students would begin to see that I was asking them questions, causing them to think, rather than telling them how to solve their “problem.” Even now, I have a chart that says, “If you cause a problem, it is your responsibility to solve it.” I have a chair in my room I have named “Hawaii” where a reflective timeout to allow for “thinking” can take place. So far, no student this year has needed to use it!

One of our sons had unfinished chores to do; we could tell because he had not flipped over all of his chore cards. Yet he came telling us that his chores were completed. The “reminding Momma” would have lectured him. Instead, I asked him to go sit and think about chore cards that are not turned over yet and what that might be telling me.  He sat a few minutes and came back, saying, “I think I hear some sheep bleating— I need to go take care of them.” And off he went. We had read about Samuel and King Saul just that morning, and how Saul had not followed through on what he was instructed to do. For quite a long time, we used that story to remind ourselves “sheep can bleat” and reveal the truth. Telling the truth builds relationship. 

We can assist our kids by asking them questions to see how to structure their questions on their own. As they mature, we can check on them and see how they are doing. One of our sons had not completed a chore and we needed to get to an appointment. Upon arrival, he sat in a chair, continuing his “thinking program.” After 15 minutes, he realized others around him were going to be having a good time, and as a consequence for not finishing his chores, he was not. He came to me and we walked through repentance, forgiveness, and restoration, and went to join the others. 

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

James 4:17

 Barbara and her husband, Terry, have been married for 50 years. Barbara has been a middle school and high school teacher for many years. They have two grown sons, Chris and Bryan. Bryan is a drone pilot in the movie industry and Chris is an international saber fencing referee and coach. The Cheney’s learned about Growing Kids God’s Way in 1994 and taught classes in their home in the greater Nashville TN area and at GFI conferences for many years.


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