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Strategies - Thinking Hats


An effective strategy for parenting is a multiple “thinking hat” approach to decide on matters using various perspectives from all involved.


“Strategies for parenting” is about a new approach to thinking as parents. One simple strategy is to use more strategies for thinking in your approach to parenting and the decisions you make as a parent. If you approach you’re thinking process from various perspectives from your family members; you will arrive at well thought out decisions which will be understood and more likely to be followed.


“Thinking is the ultimate human resource. Yet we can never be satisfied with our most important skill. No matter how good we became, we should always want to be better.” – Edward de Bono


One unique and effective strategy for thinking is the Edward de Bono “Six Thinking Hats” approach. As parents we often feel we are wearing several hats in our daily lives to balance the many responsibilities we juggle. An analogy of wearing hats can also be applied to the way you think as a parent. There are times when you need to give more thought and look at situations from a number of perspectives or with a number of thinking hats on and with input from others.


Thinking is a skill that can be developed. Once you develop a good attitude towards thinking you can begin to improve your thinking. StrategiesForParenting.com is developing a section on thinking to help develop this skill and take parenting to the next level.


Why this approach to thinking works

The best thing about using the approach of “thinking hats” is it creates an environment where a number of viewpoints are explored. Every voice is expressed and heard which is important in parenting. When everybody gets to look at the same situation from different perspectives, there is a more positive outcome and decisions will be better understood and adhered to.

The “Six Thinking Hats” ask participants to wear the same color “thinking hat” at the same time. This encourages participants to think in parallel – discussing aspects of an idea one at a time, engaging in objective fact-finding together, and exploring risks and disadvantages collectively. This focuses the group on thinking in the same direction and not at cross purposes. People who feel that they are part of the process are more likely to accept or even buy into the outcome.

Often a family issue or strategy for parenting will have a range of perspectives from each member in the family. If you apply the “thinking hats” approach, you will get each person discussing each perspective along the way to deciding on appropriate action. This helps in the process of parents coming to a thoughtful decision- and allows children to be involved in the thinking and decisions on strategies used in their parenting.

How to use the thinking hats

There are six “thinking hats” which when considered help you think about a situation in a very different way. Once you get through each of the “thinking hat” approaches, you will apply a very helpful thinking process. In reality if you at least progress your thinking to several of the six hats, you will make great strides in your thinking.

This approach helps you to think about one thing at a time while separating emotion from logic, creativity from information and other conflicting thoughts from each other.

As an introduction to this approach; the following are the various hats you should try to use in your thinking. Begin to ask questions and think with each of the perspectives suggested by each hat.

White Hat – Facts and figures. What information do we have, what information is missing and how do we get the information we need?

Red Hat – The emotional view: feelings, hunches, intuition. What’s your gut reaction? How do you feel about this?

Black Hat – The downsides: caution, difficulties, weaknesses, barriers. Is this right? Is it true? Why can’t we do this? What might not work? What are the dangers and risks?

Yellow Hat – The upsides: benefits, values, positive outcomes. Can this be done? How can we do this? What are the benefits? Why should it work?

 Green Hat – the creative side: alternatives, out-of-the-box ideas. What additional possibilities are there? What else can we try?

Blue Hat – the organizing view or overview: Manage the thinking process. How should we think about this? Where are we now? What is the next step? What are the summary points? (This is a good starting point or the first hat to put on)

The Process

The goal is to start with the Blue Hat and progress through each of the hats while thinking and asking the questions that each hat considers. This can be accomplished during a “family meeting” to allow for discussion in a focused and uninterrupted gathering. The key is to let each person answer the questions and apply the thinking of each hat. Once you have gone through the process of each hat you will find a better solution.