Mind in the Making: Skill 2 Perspective Taking
Some 13 years ago, hubby and I got a thousand piece puzzle of M.C. Escher’s “Waterfall” from Puzzle World in Wanaka, NZ. It had been kept in storage and I finally decided to work on it after so many years. We enjoyed his artworks on perspective illusion and visited an exhibition on his artwork in 2016 at the Art Science museum. It’s interesting as we put our mind to work in viewing the artwork from different perspectives.
Different people have different takeaways from the same piece of artwork. Our interpretation can be derived from experiences or what we see with our naked eye.
Very often, we find it difficult to comprehend why others think, react in a certain manner because our mind is clouded by our past experiences or the limited evidence presented before us. Situations like these calls for perspective taking. Such skills are increasingly essential as we face a rising generation who are becoming more vocal in their beliefs.
“Mind in the Making” Book Club Sharing
Last week, during a book club sharing we discussed skill 2, perspective taking, from the book Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky (Seven essential life skills every child needs). Ellen listed 9 suggestions on how you can promote perspective taking in children and I am going to share a few that resonates with me.
Practice what we preach
Knowing parenting theories won’t mean a thing if we don’t practice it because parents are the greatest role model. We need to practice what we preach consistently!
View teaching children to be with others as equally important to teaching them independence
While connecting with others is as important as independence, kids need to first manage themselves before they can practice perspective taking in a positive way. We need to help our kids develop independence; exposure to different situations, teach self-help skills through chores, letting them fight their own battles and imposing natural consequences. Such skills are also built on (skill 1) focus and self-control.
As kids begin to be with others, problems and issues are bound to arise and Ellen suggested a six step “Dilemma Resolving Technique”. We need to teach children perspective taking along with problem solving.
- Identify the dilemma, problem or issue
- Determine the goal
- Come up with alternative solutions
- Consider how these alternative solutions might work
- Select a solution to try
- Evaluate the outcome, and if the solution isn’t working, try something else
Understand that a Warm & Trusting Relationship is the Strongest Foundation for Learning Perspective Taking
Children who feel listened to, who feel understood become better listeners and understand others. We are not our children, they need respect and we need to understand their viewpoints.
Use Everyday Moments
Lastly, a very practical suggestion, which I believe most of us are already practicing – use everyday moments to build the skill of perspective taking by talking about other people’s perspective! It can be someone’s action at the playground, an advertisement or a pieces of news we just heard. Books are key in my household as we practice perspective taking. Picture books’ illustrations are great as I would pose questions to invoke their feelings and thoughts.
Take the story of “Rhinos Don’t Eat Pancakes” for example. The girl and the purple rhino built a trusting friendship over time but it was time for the rhino to leave to be back with his family. As they hugged before the rhino boards the plane; how do you think the girl and the rhino feel? When the girl got home, she sees traces left behind by the rhino, how does she feel? Why? Is there anything that can make her feel better?
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.Proverbs 22:6
Finally, let’s also be mindful to strike a balance in perspective taking, not to over speculate and overthink about others’ viewpoint that you neglect yourself.
Check out Skill 1: Focus and Self-control here.