Some kids just seem to know what they want in life, like deciding at age four they want to be a firefighter and never changing their mind about it. Then there are kids who struggle with the smallest decisions, like what color socks to wear to a friend’s sleepover. Most kids, however, might be decisive in some areas and unsure in others.
All children would benefit from good advice and guidance in making choices. Even we, as parents, often need advice and input regarding our choices, don’t we? Here are four ways you can help your child learn to make good choices in life.
- Teach your child the importance of evaluating options.
Not every choice has equal weight. Deciding what they want to eat for breakfast doesn’t have the same importance of choosing where to go for summer camp. Still, if you help them evaluate smaller choices, they will find it easier to wisely weigh options when bigger things come their way. So, back to breakfast: help them understand why scrambled eggs and a bagel with cream cheese would be better for them than a cream puff.
- Encourage your child to think and reflect, even if it takes time.
Children aren’t the only ones who sometimes think they need to make a decision, pronto. (That’s why one-click purchases can be dangerous for some of us and our budgets.) If you have a son who tends to make sudden decisions, explain to him that it is good to think about something before making a choice. Let’s say your son is choosing between two electives. Maybe he wants to jump into one of them right away, but you know that giving him time might help him make a wiser decision. Encourage him to take a few days before making his choice and provide him with all relevant information during the decision-making process.
- Let them decide what is more important to them.
Let’s say your daughter has two separate events on the weekend – a birthday party for a friend, and a sports event for a family member. First, make sure you don’t guilt her into making one choice or the other. If it’s something you feel strongly about, don’t tell her she has a choice when you’re invested in only one of the options. Then, if attending both events is not possible, let her consider which one is more important to her. Depending on her age, you can inform her that this is a choice that adults often must make, and it’s not easy to choose between two good things. Once she has made the decision, encourage her to stick with it and not to worry about whether she made the right choice.
- Use your choices as training ground for your child.
As grown-ups, we face decisions every day. When you come to a choice, let it be a time of learning for your child. Depending on their age, you can explain certain aspects of a decision you are making and let them know the reasons you will choose one way or the other. Perhaps even ask them for input, saying, “What would you do if you were me?” You can do this for small things like a furniture purchase, or larger decisions such as where to submit job applications. Talking choices over with your child will make it easier for them to face decisions when they reach that point in life.
Bonita Jewel – Mommy, blogger, and Dill Team Member