Whether you know it or not, your child makes decisions every day. Younger children make decisions like what they’ll eat for lunch, which toys they’re going to play with, how they will interact with their friends. However, as your child gets older, the decisions become much more difficult. In their adolescent and teens years, children are often left to make decisions about their identity, friends, school work, behavior, and even their family. It is during these years, that a strong foundation from their parents helps them to be informed decision makers.
Lead By Example
You want the best for your children. You know there will come a day when they are faced with a decision that you cannot help them make which is why you work so hard to raise them right. At the very core of things, children learn their decision-making skills from the values, beliefs, and actions of others around them. Essentially, to teach them to make the right decision, you must first be a positive example to them.
Even when you think they aren’t watching you, they are, and they use this as a guide in their own lives. So whether they see you make a good decision like eating salads and fruits instead of junk and processed foods, or they see you make a poor decision like drinking and driving, the objective is to show them by example how to make the right decision and more importantly how to recover from a bad one.
Whether that means using a low cost interlock system to prevent you from getting on the road while under the influence, or it means allowing them to go grocery shopping with you and reading the nutritional information on the products you purchase, it is these lessons that will help them in their own lives.
Teach Them How to Make Decisions
Making impulsive decisions very rarely produces a positive outcome. Therefore, it is necessary that you teach your children how to make an informed decision.
Steps they would follow include:
- Identifying the decision to be made
- Reviewing options
- Determine consequences or positive outcomes
- Put your choice into action and respond accordingly
Allow them to practice this process when they’re younger in everyday decisions. This might include determining what they’ll eat, decide what to watch, or even deciding what to do in their free time. This practice will prepare them to utilize these tools when they have to make more serious decisions like following rules, making new friends, and engaging in reckless behaviors like drinking or using drugs.
Allow them to Experience the Outcome
Like adults, children aren’t always going to make the right decision. It takes time to make decisions that are based more on logic than emotion or impulsive reaction and along the way, your child may make a mistake. It is imperative that you don’t necessarily keep chastising them for their mistake, but that you allow them to live through the experience even if there are consequences involved. If they get into a fight at school, don’t try and talk the principal out of suspending them, instead allow them to feel the consequences of being suspended. This will teach them a valuable lesson and hopefully prevent them from going down the same road again.
As much as you’d love your child to stay young forever, and be shielded from the burden and responsibilities that come with making decisions in life the truth is, you can’t. The best way to ensure your children have the best tools as they age, it is imperative to start now in helping them understand the process of decision making and the steps to following through on and potentially bouncing back from those choices.