Raising Good Decision Makers
You may have discovered that one of the challenges of being a parent is asking your child to make a decision or a choice. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Afterall, many adults struggle to make even the simplest of choices, like where to go for dinner on a Friday night or what shirt to wear to the office Christmas party. It should come as no surprise then that children may struggle with the same indecisiveness.
When it comes to raising children, it’s important to actively seek to raise good decision makers. Children who are able to make confident choices become adults who are risk analyzers and able to take control of the outcome of their future. Here are some pointers to help your child become confident, good decision makers.
- Give your child the opportunity to make age-appropriate decisions.
Building the foundations for decision making starts early in life. Age-appropriate decisions allow children to have some level of self-determination as well as the opportunity to make decisions that directly affect them. For toddlers, these decisions could be as simple as what outfit they want to wear or what food they’d like for lunch. For older children, choices could revolve around how to spend their free time or perhaps what extracurricular activity they’ll participate in.
- Include them in decisions that affect the entire family.
Children are working daily to find their place in the world. Their world begins at home within the confines of their family. Including children in family-wide decisions is an excellent way to let them know that their opinion is valued. It also helps them lay the foundations for understanding that their decisions may affect other people. Include them in decisions like where to go on vacation, how to spend the next weekend, or what to put on the weekly dinner menu.
- Talk through decision making processes.
Making decisions can be overwhelming and confusing at times. Help your children make sense of their thoughts and feelings by talking through their decision making process with them. List pros and cons of the various choices and discuss possible outcomes of each choice. You can even help them understand decision making by talking through your own decision making process and asking for their input on what they think you should do.
- Allow them to make the wrong choice.
A massive part of learning how to make sound decisions is to learn from mistakes. You may see it coming from a thousand miles away, but resist the urge to intervene if your child is making an adverse decision. This is of course assuming that the decision does not put them or anyone else in grave danger.
- Honor their decisions.
When you give your child an opportunity to make a decision, make sure that you honor their choice. If you choose not to honor it, they’ll feel that their decision wasn’t really important, or perhaps wrong. This sets the tone for future decision making and may cause them to second guess their next decision for fear of choosing an option you won’t approve of. Make sure you are always giving them the chance to make decisions for things that you are willing to follow through on, no matter what choice they choose.Laying the foundations for sound decision making can take some time. You can expect for there to be bumps in the road. Be sure to never forget that everything is a learning opportunity, and sometimes you’re the one doing the learning yourself! With a little bit of encouragement and guidance, you’ll be on your way to raising self-determined, analytical, and compassionate decision makers of the future.