How to Teach Kids How to Make Sound Decisions
One of the most important skills we can teach our children is decision-making. While many parents teach decision-making, others struggle with differentiating between basic decision-making and wise choices. Here are the keys to teaching your children to make wise decisions:
Give Them Opportunities to Make Decisions
First, you must give your children opportunities to make decisions. If you are continually choosing for them, they will not learn how to choose for themselves. These opportunities start at a very young age with simple choices such as what to eat and what to wear. As they grow, continue looking for opportunities to allow them to make age-appropriate decisions.
Don’t Overwhelm Children with Too Many Options
However, you should not present your children with too many options. Too many options may overwhelm and make the decision process more difficult. Instead, narrow down the possibilities before you present the idea to your children. This type of limiting will still give them the power to make the ultimate decision without bombarding them with more than they can handle.
Work Through the Decision-Making Process with Them
Rather than expecting your child to understand the decision-making process, you should take the time to walk through this critical process with them occasionally. For example, discuss the various options and the possible outcomes (or consequences) of each choice. Explain how the different factors will impact the result. Teach them how to weigh the good and the bad (or pro’s and con’s) when making decisions.
Validate Their Ideas
When your child makes a decision, especially a good one, make sure you praise your child. If your child comes to you for help with a decision, take time to validate his/her ideas and then factor those ideas and feelings into the decision-making process. It is vital for children to have their ideas validated so that they can grow in their confidence to make decisions independently.
Remind Children to Consider Others
As you work on teaching your children to think for themselves, you should also remind them to consider others. Explain that when you make decisions they do not affect just yourself – they also affect those around you. Plus, this reminder is a great way to build empathy.
Model Sound Decision Making
Remember that you are their ultimate role model. Children learn from their parents daily – including how to make big decisions. Therefore, it is necessary to let them see you make decisions. For example, think aloud about decisions in front of your children when it is developmentally appropriate.
Allow Kids to Suffer the Consequences
Lastly, you must allow them to suffer the consequences of poor decisions from time to time. Instead of rushing in and giving them the right answer every time, your children need to make mistakes. These experiences are imperative for learning that decisions do have consequences, both positive and negative.
As we work to raise children who can think for themselves, we should also teach the importance of sound decision-making.