Jeni Boysen thought it would be a good idea to take a quick shower. Her two-year-old son, Dax, was watching Peppa Pig and seemed content. Leaving him unattended for a few minutes wouldn’t hurt — every parent’s last words. As she came out of the shower, she received a text from her neighbor. Apparently, Dax got bored of Peppa and decided to take off all of his clothes and hide. The text read: Your kid is naked in your window. Then a photo came of Dax standing like a soldier in front of the blinds of an upstairs window.
Not to send you a photo. I’ve deleted it. But I looked up when I got home and there he was.
Boysen couldn’t stop laughing. “Ya know. Sometimes you think you’re doing okay at life and then you get a message like this from a neighbor,” she wrote on Facebook alongside a censored photo of Dax. “I just cried I laughed so hard. This is exactly the laughter I needed tonight.” 
The post of Dax’s window antics has gone viral with many commenters relating to finding a naked kid.
“LOL this is hilarious!!” wrote one parent. “Sounds like something one of my boys would do!!“
As ridiculous as Dax’s actions were, it displays a creative kind of thinking. After all, how many people would think of this idea? This sort of “out of the box” thinking is healthy and extremely beneficial for children. It shows a form of confidence, and in Dax’s case, no fear of heights. It’s awesome that Dax has such a great mom who appreciates his antics.
Critical and Creative Thinking for Kids
Being able to access a situation and to come up with an innovative and effective solution is an important skill for children to learn. It helps them make good decisions and problem-solve as adults.
The real question is, how do we teach our children these skills?
The University of Edinburgh conducted a study that found adults who considered their parents to be more caring and less psychologically controlling were more likely to grow up to be happy and satisfied. 
Alternatively, those who were parented with more psychological control had lower levels of mental well-being throughout their lives; this effect was compared to the recent death of a close friend or relative.
“We found that people whose parents showed warmth and responsiveness had higher life satisfaction and better mental wellbeing throughout early, middle and late adulthood,” said Mai Stafford, the lead author of the study. “By contrast, psychological control was significantly associated with lower life satisfaction and mental wellbeing. Examples of psychological control include not allowing children to make their own decisions, invading their privacy and fostering dependence.”
Psychological control is different than behavior control, which sets limits on types of behavior, such as expecting chores and homework to be completed and setting curfews. Psychological control forces beliefs or emotional states, such as inducing guilt or making love conditional.
“We know from other studies,” said Stafford, “that if a child shares a secure emotional attachment with their parents, they are better able to form secure attachments in adult life. Parents also give us a stable base from which to explore the world, while warmth and responsiveness have been shown to promote social and emotional development. By contrast, psychological control can limit a child’s independence and leave them less able to regulate their own behavior.”
Ultimately, a parent should set appropriate limits and expectations, while explaining them to the child and listening when they talk. Don’t try to control their every opinion or belief; show you respect them even when you think differently. Set them free to make their own choices and take responsibility for them — and start early. 
Teach Them While They’re Young
Many toys today leave little room for imagination, from paint by numbers sets to science kits with lists of instructions. Not many develop the critical skill for children to think for themselves.
Here’s some proactive tips for raising out-of-the-box thinkers:
- Let them play – And let them use their whole minds and bodies, from planning and constructing sandcastles to testing speed theories when playing with toy trucks. Free play is a crucial part of a child’s learning, and let them choose their goals and games. Above all, let them entertain themselves.
- Ask open-ended questions – This enables them to practice critical thinking skills. Instead of asking what colors or animals they see, ask things like
- “Why do you think this happened?”
- “What do you think will happen if…?”
- “Why did you choose to …?”
- “What makes this work?”
- “What do you like best about it?”
- “How might you do this differently next time?”
- Let kids fail – It breaks every parent’s heart to see a child fail but it’s healthy. Let them fail over and over. Let them build resilience and experiences, and above all, teach them that failure is a good thing they shouldn’t be afraid of. Sometimes the important part is not that kids achieve their goals but what they learn along the way. 
Creativity and out-of-the-box thinking should be encouraged in children. Besides setting them up to be successful, resilient, and confident adults, you may have some fun experiences such as finding your naked son hiding in the window.
- “‘Your kid is naked in your window’: Here’s the story behind hilarious viral photo.” Today. Kerry Breen. February 7, 2020
- “Parent-child relationships and offspring’s positive mental wellbeing from adolescence to early older age.” The University of Edinburgh. Mai Stafford. December 15, 2012.
- “Science Says Happier People are Raised by Parents who Do This 1 Thing.” Inc. Jeff Haden. March 15, 2017.
- “3 Genius Tips for Raising Out of the Box Thinkers.” Lemon Lime Adventures. Dayna