Make Them Prove It

As we’ve said before, your kids are always watching. Not just you of course, but the world. And for better or worse, they’re always telling you about it–what they see, what they think, what their opinion about it is. This is usually delightful…and occasionally annoying.

In his wonderful new book, Outdoor Kids in an Inside World, Steven Rinella tells a story about taking his kids camping in Montana. One of his kids confidently claimed to have spotted a scorpion. But when Steve didn’t believe him, they got increasingly upset, convinced that they had, in fact, seen one. “I told him the only way he would change my mind,” Steven writes, “is by bringing me a scorpion, which seemed like a perfectly safe and reasonable thing to say since we all know there are no scorpions in Montana.”

Every parent who has challenged their kids on those impossible kinds of claims knows what happened next. Within minutes, the kids were back with two scorpions on a rock. “A quick Google search revealed that we were beholding two specimens of Montana’s only scorpion species, the northern scorpion, which is mostly found around rimrock areas in the Yellowstone Basin. It was news to me.”

We all learn the hard way to be credulous to what our kids claim. Even if they are wrong a lot, the one time they’re not…it will cost you. But that doesn’t mean they should have it easy. Make them prove it. Make them track the scorpion down. Make them find some evidence, give a detailed description, build the case. Better yet, do it together. You’re teaching them to show their work, to support their position, to convince and persuade…and you’re keeping them busy in the process.

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