Benefits of Debates for Children

In this competitive world where excellence is a cliché, a wise parent wants her child to have the upper hand at being world-ready. Debates can be a one-stop formula to succeed at almost everything!

By Hannah S Mathew  • 6 min read

Benefits of Debates for Children

With today’s teens being engrossed in watching television, playing online games and maintaining a social media presence, their individual expression becomes very limited. In order to address this issue, parents should encourage them to participate in activities such as speech competitions and debates. These can have long-term, rewarding influences that encourage self-expression. Debating, especially moulds children’s overall personality apart from providing an avenue for them to voice their views. The online Collins dictionary says: ‘a debate is a discussion about a subject on which people have different views’. When your child gets to listen to different views, it widens her perceptions and sharpens her critical and analytical thinking skills. These are not the only benefits. There are a lot more. Let this article introduce you to the varied benefits that preparing for and participating in debates can give your ward to make her a responsible adult, a successful professional and world-ready!

Debates use scoring sheets and most judges evaluate a speaker based on the three-fold criteria, namely, Matter, Manner and Method. Employing the same criteria, this article will help you understand the benefits that debating has to offer.

1. Matter: Debaters have to keep themselves updated about current events, world politics, advances in science and medicine and new usages in the English language because the expected outcome of a debate is a multi-faceted analysis of the subject. As a result, they are:

  • great at remembering information
  • skilled note-takers
  • fast readers
  • adept at research
  • aware of the world around them
  • knowledgeable of purposeful factual information
  • authorities of many disciplines, even those outside the realm of academics
  • analytical and sensible thinkers
  • practised travellers who gain an early exposure to the real world

2. Manner: Along with their professional skills, debaters acquire exceptional personal skills too. They nurture a sensitive and responsible attitude towards life and others. Some of these takeaways include the ability to:

  • tackle stage fear
  • speak up for oneself
  • articulate well
  • control facial expressions
  • dress smart
  • apply reason
  • practise tolerance and introspection
  • network with professional communities through public forums, research arenas and debating platforms
  • cultivate lifelong friendships

3. Method: The essential requisite of every citizen of the world is to offer courses of action and be able to expound that course in the best possible manner. This requires the debater to choose her methods of persuasion and choices of conviction carefully. Therefore, she becomes skilled at:

  • using humour
  • persuasion techniques
  • expressing empathy
  • being objective and creative
  • story-telling techniques
  • taking risks
  • decisive, instinctive and quick thinking
  • practising decorum 
  • expressing respect in the face of differing views, emotional attachments and personal sensitivities
  • exhibiting confidence and poise 
  • rigorous higher order and critical thinking skills
  • structuring and organising thoughts
  • effective speech composition and delivery
  • conflict resolution
  • thinking and acting under pressure
  • leadership and teamwork 

Now that you have all the information you need under your belt, look around for a debating club in your locality and, if there isn’t one, maybe it’s time to start one in your ward’s school or neighbourhood. Debate club experiences feed directly into your teen’s career as the attributes mentioned above are exactly what every employer would be looking for in an applicant. These skills and abilities are extremely appealing in the professional world. So, what’s keeping you? Go on and get started!

Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor.