Choices Are Empowering:
Observe any child and their unstructured play. They’re making quick decisions with whatever they see right in front of them. They keep things simple and don’t complicate things unnecessarily. They don’t even care about expensive toys as long as they have things to tinker with that can engage their curiosity and wonder.
When decisions are made for children, it takes away their power to choose from them. But the power to weigh in options, careful consider consequences and then decide between choices is an empowering act.
So, here’s the thing. Unless its life and death, don’t decide for your children please. Those who’re given the chance to rescue themselves will also find out ways to recover from consequences later.
To build a mindset of courage and confidence in them, ask them what they’ve enjoyed doing that day, rather than what they’ve accomplished. It will help them explore their thoughts and the things they want to do more.
A Note On Decision Making:
Decision making is hard because
a. We fear the consequence.
B. We don’t have faith in ourselves.
Decisions that are taken for the short term are near sighted and self-centered. Focusing on the micro benefits might serve us better but it doesn’t help the greater good. We’ll have a comfortable bed, but won’t sleep better at night if we’re too self-centered.
Decisions should be quick and done with our best effort. Remembering that decisions and outcomes are not the same helps with timely decision making. If something doesn’t go as intended, we must correct and continue if needed. What alternative do we have? We’ll only know if our decision has become a terrible situation or a desired outcome only after the fact anyway!
How Teens Make Decisions:
Teens make their decision mostly based on emotions or peer pressure. Like little children, teens also learn decision making in many ways.
To help their brains make more neural connections and their brain synapses get stronger, here are a few things we can do as caregivers.
1. Give them opportunities to fail.
2. Give them more experiences to learn.
3. Train them with hypothetical scenarios.
What Children Must Be Taught:
Instead of making decisions for our children, it’s important for us to enable them to drive their conclusions about what they want to do. After all, if kids make their own choices, they will also be invested in following through with the outcomes.
Tell them three simple things about decision making that is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Listen to your head.
Follow your heart.
Do what your gut says.
If we don’t allow our children to take small decisions now, especially when the risk is not so high, how can we expect them to have the confidence to take big decisions on their own later?
What we can do is, unless it’s a life and death issue, we can prime their little minds for failure by ensuring them that they’re simply stepping stones towards their goals. After all, real life is messy and unpredictable, we’re simply training them for the long run.
Responsible decision making can be taught by helping children understand ethical standards, personal values, safety concerns, respect for others and most importantly the potential consequences of various actions. It can be taught how their choices now can determine the long term impact of their personal and community wellbeing.
As adults, we were navigating new territory each day with the Covid Pandemic. But, come to think of it, it was a great way for us to be learning how to navigate the unknown. We can choose our daily experiences to be a classroom or a coffin for our growth. Failure is important for children to understand so that they can appreciate all the good things that happen to them.
Can Their Life Be A True Adventure?
Show us one child who readily picks up the veggies from their plate, or who screams, “Broccoli for dinner tonight! Yay!”
The point is, when children get their way most of the time at home around adults who indulge them with love, they grow up with the sense of whatever they want must be GOOD for them too! Otherwise, the adults would tell them so, right? In addition to that, it sends a wrong message that practice, dedication and hard work are not really essential to achieve success. Children who don’t have proper nutrition and a good night’s sleep arrive at school with a barrier for learning. They are restless, inattentive and irritable.
Since when we did stop thinking of life as an adventure in the unknown?
We claim to be giving children lessons in adulting, but what we’re not realizing is that we are robbing them of their wonder, curiosity and imagination. Let’s stop sheltering them and start fostering their inner free spirit.
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About The Article Author:
I see myself as an advocate for bringing social, emotional and character development to families, schools and communities. I never want to let this idea out of my sight – Our children are not just GPAs. I’m a Writer and a Certified Master Coach in NLP and CBT. Until 2017, I was also a Big Data Scientist. In December of 2044, I hope to win the Nobel. Namasté.
Write to me or call me. Tell me what support from me looks like.
Program Director & Essential Life Skills Coach for Kids and Busy Parents
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