When was the last time you saw someone walking down the street and immediately made an assumption about them? Or perhaps your friend never texted you back and you figured they were mad at you, with no other evidence.
Every day we jump to conclusions, whether those conclusions have any basis or not. It is part of our nature to find patterns in everyday things. Many of the conclusions we jump to are actually helpful. We see the stove is on, so we assume that the burner is hot and don’t touch it.
But jumping to conclusions can lead to unintended or negative outcomes, especially in children. In this blog, we are going to talk about the two ways of jumping to conclusions that your child will experience and how to avoid them.
The first way your child will jump to conclusions is through mind reading. Mind reading occurs when your child makes negative assumptions about how other people see them. They might think that a teacher hates them because they got them in trouble once. Or your child might think that another student is angry at them because of what they said to a friend.
The other way that kids jump to conclusions is called fortune telling. This happens when your child makes a negative assumption about the future. Your son might think that he will fail the next math test because he failed one before, even though he has been studying for a week. Or your daughter might think that her team is going to lose because they lost the last three games in a row, even if they won the five before that.
In both situations, your child is making a negative prediction without any evidence or facts to back it up. These negative assumptions might seem temporary, but jumping to conclusions over and over again can lead to depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, and can stop them from being accountable later in life.
In my experience as a life coach, getting one of my kids to stop jumping to conclusions is tough. There is a certain safety in the assumptions that you make, and it is easy to shift the blame when you jump to conclusions. Luckily, there are a few methods I have found that you can use to stop your child from jumping to conclusions.
1. Encourage curiosity. There are a lot of positives that come from encouraging curiosity in your child. It leads to innovative thinking, expanded knowledge, and a desire to learn. Curiosity can also fight the urge to jump to conclusions. By encouraging your child to be curious, they will want to learn more before jumping to conclusions and won’t make assumptions about others without evidence.
2. Talk it out. Your child will make assumptions when you aren’t around, but they will do it around you, too. When you notice them jumping to conclusions, don’t just shut them down or tell them they’re wrong. Ask them to explain how they came to that conclusion. Over time, your child will learn that they are making their own problems when they jump to baseless conclusions.
3. Get to the bottom of it. If your child is frequently assuming the worst, odds are there are some underlying reasons for it. They might be worried or stressed about school, or they might be in a fight with their friend. Encourage open dialogue with your child and get them talking about it. Once you know the source of the problem it is easier to deal with it.
As I mentioned before, jumping to conclusions is engrained in us. Studies actually show that noticing patterns releases a dopamine response from our brain, regardless of whether we are correct in that recognition. Getting your child to stop jumping to conclusions is not an easy feat to accomplish, but preventing them from making those negative assumptions is worth the work.