Parents Never Have Enough Time

Recently I was driving through morning traffic with my two high school freshmen in the vehicle. Morning gab radio was on in the background when a story caught our attention. The DJs were interviewing a woman who claimed to have captured the call of a Bigfoot and the station was about to play the audio. I did what any good parent would do. I turned up the volume and told them to stop talking. 

I am not sure what I was expecting, but it was not the sound they played. The call was extremely high pitched, more chihuahua than pit bull.  

This small moment was the perfect time to practice a thinkLaw critical thinking strategy on the fly. We pressed pause.  

What does it mean to Press Pause?  

Pressing pause is an intentional moment during your day when you encounter something new or unexpected. It might be a headline, picture, radio sound bite, or a new product in the grocery store. To press pause, try these two steps: 

  • Ask Your Kids to Share their Gut Reactions. Everyone experiences gut reactions to new information. Judges, juries, and even lawyers have gut reactions. Gut reactions are normal. Mature critical thinkers recognize their gut reactions. Explicitly asking your kids to identify and name their gut reactions helps your kids develop the habit of pressing pause and considering what they need to turn their gut reaction into an informed opinion. What was their gut reaction to the “Bigfoot” call?  
  • Start Asking Questions. We want our kids (and our social media friends) to make the move from a gut reaction to an informed opinion. The second step after identifying a gut reaction is asking questions. What did that clip tell us? What did the clip NOT tell us? Who recorded the call? Where was she located? Does the call match any other animal? Was the call from an animal? What motivation might a person have to make a fake Bigfoot call? What should you do if you capture a strange call on audio? 

This Strategy Can Be Used in Any Setting 

Once you start to think about this strategy, you may realize that you are already pressing pause during the day as part of your critical thinking process. You are most likely just doing it inside your head instead of saying it aloud. I had a gut reaction. I had a lot of questions after hearing the call. Before we left that morning, I was not making extensive critical thinking lesson plans; in fact, I was likely yelling at everyone to hurry up and get in the car. But all I had to do to create this critical thinking opportunity was to say what I was already thinking aloud and invite my kids to join the conversation. 

Topics will come up that your kids have never considered, but that does not mean they do not have an opinion! Giving kids space to share their gut reactions creates a low floor entry to any topic.  

Three Reasons to Start Pressing Pause Today 

  1. This is a vital real-world skill. We want our kids to use this approach in their everyday lives. What should they do when they hear a headline? What should they do when they hear gossip in the hall? We do not want them to stay in the “gut reaction” space when it comes to critical issues. When our kids experience a gut reaction in real time, we want our kids to be in the habit of pressing pause, considering what they need to know, and brainstorming where they can find that information.
  2. Asking for gut reactions allows kids to share their connections to the world. A gut reaction is a mix of our kids’ identities, experiences, values, education in school, and education out of school. As a parent I want to understand how my kids think! Press pause conversations offer a lot of insight into their personal thinking process. 
  3. Pressing pause and asking for gut reactions normalizes not knowing the “correct” answer. Too often in our schools students are terrified to share a response that might be wrong. We give our kids permission to exist in a space of not knowing when we explicitly talk about gut reactions. They do not know everything. I do not know everything. But we live in a time where we can easily learn more about any topic that captures our attention.  

Pressing pause is a strategy that requires little to no preparation but yields powerful results! Let us know how you took time to press pause with your class on our social channels or find out how you can create more meaningful conversations are this with your kids using our Raising Critical Thinkers program (designed especially for busy parents and families).









Be sure to join us on Twitter (@thinklawus), Facebook (@thinklawus) and our Tangible Equity private community for more “press pause” conversations and resources! 



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