One day, my 11-year-old came home from a library field trip with a sticky situation. One of her classmates invited an older man to the field trip. As my daughter was explaining how he followed them around and tried to talk to them, I was panicking inside. I wanted to say “I am going straight to the principal to deal with this!” However, I bit my tongue and continued to listen.
After she finished her story, I took a deep breath and said, “Well you seem concerned about this situation, what do you want to do about it?”
We discussed her choices, weighed the pros and cons, and eventually, she concluded to tell the principal of her school what happened. Although I was proud of her decision making, I would have understood if she wanted to avoid being ostracized for snitching.
Importance of Critical Thinking
This is a real-life example of a sticky situation our children may have to face. We need critical thinkers in our society right now. People who practice open-mindedness, who take a step back, evaluate the situation, weigh pros and cons then cautiously make those tough decisions in life through reflection.
Teaching how to make good decisions, how to think critically, and giving your child the opportunity to make tough choices rationally is one of the best gifts you can give to your child.
When I think about reflection, I automatically am reminded of our beloved prophet Muhammad SAWS. He would spend hours in the cave of Hira reflecting on the world around him. He was thoughtful, reasonable, and reflective in his decision making which reminds us that he is the best example for all humankind.
The Prophet Muhammad SAWS also encouraged us as Muslims to seek the guidance of God through Salat al Istikhara before making a tough decision. Essentially, giving us the guidance from God and a time to think about the pros and cons of the different choices we may have to make in life.
So how can we encourage deep thinking in our Muslim children concerning decisions they may face?
If you’ve ever wondered how to teach critical thinking you’re not alone! Critical thinking and problem-solving are a skill that takes real-world practice to develop.
However, children naturally role-play in their everyday lives using their imaginations. Providing ethical dilemmas through role-playing is an age-appropriate way to get children to think about different situations they may not experience through their everyday play.
Role-playing can help with communication skills such as listening and speaking. Other benefits include improving social and emotional development, critical thinking skills, communicating your opinions as well as your values.
In the following role-plays you will find ethical dilemmas where your child can practice the decision-making process. They will need to think deeply about tough situations, make a pros and cons list, come up with a solution, and make the right choice.
- “What Would You Do?” Template
- Camera phone
Activity: Print Out and Work on Ethical Dilemmas
- Print out “What Would You Do?” Template.
- Determine which role play your child will work on.
- Read the ethical dilemmas to your child (or have them read it.)
- Write your pros and cons list in regards to the ethical dilemma.
- Choose a solution.
- Take a picture of their work and share it with Noor Kids on Facebook or Instagram @NoorKids.
Ethical Dilemmas Situation Examples
- You have two friends who are signed up for different sports teams for the summer. One friend wants you to join baseball. The other friend wants you to join soccer. The schedule for both sports are at the same time. You only have the option of choosing one sport. What would you do? Why? Write pros and cons list and tell us your answer.
- You are at the masjid; you see a friend vandalize the lights and decorations that were for Ramadan. Your friend ended up causing 100 dollars in damages. The Imam announced on Friday prayer that anyone who has any evidence against the culprit to please come forward. You are the only witness to see the vandalization. What would you do? Why? Write a pros and cons list and tell us your answer.
- You and your friend both want to try out for the school play. Your friend wants the lead role; you would be happy with any part you’re given. The drama teacher brings you aside and says she wants to give you the lead role. What would you do? Why? Write a pros and cons list and tell us your answer.
- You notice your younger sibling being left out when hanging with a group of friends at the Masjid. Your sibling sits on the curb of the parking lot and starts to cry while everyone else walks away. Your friends encourage you to come with them and ignore your sibling. What would you do? Why? Write a pros and cons list and tell us your answer.
- You are at a bake sale at school. While waiting in line, you notice a classmate who stands and watches everyone else buy treats. They appear to not have any money to buy a bake sale treat. You remember your teacher saying that no one is allowed to share their money with anyone for the bake sale. However, you feel sorry for your classmate. What would you do? Why? Write a pros and cons list and tell us your answer.