Typically, children are not familiar with the science and concepts of psychology, but because they are egocentric, they absolutely love learning about themselves.
One of the main difficulties psychologists face in working with children stems from the fact they have a poor understanding of why they do what they do.
An introduction to the basics of psychology can be valuable in helping children develop the much needed insight into themselves and a better understanding of why they think and act as they do.
The book Psychology for Kids: 40 Fun Tests That Help You Learn about Yourself is a fun way for parents to introduce their child to psychology while challenging their child to learn something new. The activities in the book are short, kid friendly tests. For example, one quiz reveals if the child is an optimist or a pessimist, while another quiz indicates whether they are left brained or right brained. The company states the book is for ages 10 and up, however, as a gifted teacher I find the activities to be appropriate for gifted children as young as eight.
The exercises provide parents an invaluable opportunity to show their children practical examples of how their attitudes and behaviors were formed growing up. Such insight helps the child to realize early on that they can change their thinking and therefore change their feelings rather than erroneously believing, “Well, I am what I am and I cannot change”. It may also be useful in assisting the child to understand why behaviors of other family members and friends cause them to feel a certain way.
Psychology for Kids II: 40 Fun Experiments That Help You Learn about Others offers experiments a child can conduct with friends and family members. For example, there are easy experiments which address the idea of whether we can shape other people’s behaviors and if so, how this can be done. Another experiment asks, “Can one negative word change an opinion?”
These experiments help the child move from being self-focused to developing interests in why others act and think the way they do. Developing empathy toward others, particularly mom and dad, can be a very good thing. Another benefit associated with discussing experiment results is your child will learn to communicate his own attitudes and feelings. By doing so early on in a nonthreatening manner, he will be more likely to examine and express himself as he grows and matures.
It would be best for the child to interact with the parent while using these books in order to discuss the test and experiment results. However, for the very busy parent these books can be a fun gift in which the older child works independently.
Parents who want to challenge their gifted child at home will find introducing lessons in psychology a great opportunity towards helping their child understand why people think and act as they do.