Lateral Thinking and Kids

In an age where technology reigns supreme and has made an advent into almost every aspect of our daily lives, parents are often at a loss on how to balance their children’s exposure to technology for better learning.

While modern parenting evolves to accommodate virtual means of education and learning, it is also important to focus on encouraging alternative ways of learning in children. But these alternate ways of learning and development are often neglected, primarily due to lack of options or lack of knowledge or understanding.

Just think about it!!

Lateral thinking and creativity as a concept is often neglected by parents and teachers over the course of a child’s education. It is often misconceived as being talents innately present in children, which cannot be acquired or honed with practice or time. However, the reality is that these are skills can be inculcated and developed in them over time given the right kind of training and opportunities by parents and teachers. The benefits of it are immense.

But what exactly is lateral thinking?

The technique of ‘Lateral Thinking’ was invented by Edward de Bono in 1967. According to him, “Lateral Thinking is a set of processes that provides a deliberate, systematic way of thinking creatively, that results in innovative thinking in a repeatable manner.” He further says, “A person uses lateral thinking to move from one known idea to creating new ideas.”

Lateral thinking refers to solving intricate problems by using an off-beat, indirect and creative approach. It means using right lobe of the brain, which is creative, to solve problems that would not have been possible by using the logical lobe of the left brain.

In Lateral thinking one just stands back, starts looking at the bigger picture, and understands the basic concepts first before working on to find out solutions. It also focus on areas of thinking that are often overlooked and neglected and later start challenging traditional assumptions and find out alternatives.

How is it useful for kids?

Thinking is just like any other brain skill. Anyone can improve and boost it. When children learn how to think in a creative manner, they can easily enhance the end result of any activity they’re pursuing.

A lateral thinker has the following characteristics:

  • They are ready to change the way they look at things.
  • They are ready to look for things and scenarios that are different in nature.
  • They look at unexpected sides of the problems and are explore those territories where a conventional thinker never cares to look and explore.

Lateral thinking offers multiple advantages and benefits to children:

  • Development of a better sense of self as well as social and emotional maturity;
  • Greater confidence in tackling challenges in the classroom and outside of it;
  • Increased focus and concentration;
  • Better performance in academics;
  • Excellence in areas of passion or aptitude.

Scientific experiments, puzzles and games are commonly recommended as activities for encouraging lateral thinking in children, as well as every-day problem solving involving situations at home or outside. 

Overall, children with a spirit of curiosity about the world are likely to question everything around them. Discovering or exploring the potential answers to those questions will provide a valuable learning curve at an academic and personal level to them, as well as greater confidence in their abilities. Freedom of thought and expression is therefore crucial to developing creative and lateral thinking skills.

Experts also caution parents against being over-zealous in engaging their child in the aforementioned exercises and activities lest they take away the “fun” element in learning, which can instead induce performance-anxiety in the child and prove to be counteractive to the learning process. Just as parenting involves a trial-and-error method, so do techniques for discovering methods which lets a child’s creativity and thinking skills blossom. The key ultimately lies in patience and a sense of partnership between the parent and child in working towards building skills for a productive life together.


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