An obvious fact: very young children don’t understand about the future. If they’re 6 years old, they simply can’t conceive of the fact that in a few years they will be in high school. This inability to comprehend their own desired or possible future extends into adolescence. And if they don’t exercise future-thinking as a teen, this disability could harden into a pattern that extends into adulthood: a fixation on here-and-now satisfactions; reluctance to set or follow through with goals; failure to foresee consequences and making bad choices; not planning for future outcomes.

However, with practice (repetition), a teen can establish this critical thinking skill.

And it’s important that they do so. Your attempts to give them wisdom, help them plan for important future events, and understand the future consequences of their actions depend on whether they’re able to seriously consider the reality of their future. Otherwise, your best efforts to guide them will seem irrelevant to their focus on here-and-now priorities.

To help parents deal with this aspect of development, I’ve written several brief articles:

Does Your Child Think about the Future?

Dad Talks to Daughter…about the Future

Teens Need to Get Good at Future Thinking

Growing Kids Need to Believe in Their Future

Making the Future Real for Teenagers

I hope some of this is helpful. A kid who believes in the future is much easier to coach and guide while growing up.