Does this ever happen at your house? You ask your kid a question. They have to make a choice, and they just can’t decide. Here’s what it looks like with my oldest son.
It’s lunch time, I ask my son, “what do you want for lunch? (his regular choices) Peanut butter and jelly sandwich or ham and cheese?”
My son, “PBJ!” 2 minutes later. “No I want ham and cheese.” 30 seconds later, “I don’t know what I want, can you just choose for me.”
Maybe it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, it’s just a sandwich, but decision making is a lifelong skill and now is the time to develop decision making skills to help kids learn how to make good choices.
Today he is choosing between PBJ and ham & cheese sandwiches, but as he grows he is going to be faced with more important choices that I am not going to be able to choose for him. He is going to need develop skills to know how to make a good choice for himself.
6 Ways to Help You Kids Become Decision Makers
#1 Model Decision Making Behavior
Kids learn the most from watching their parents. They are little sponges, and pick up more than we can imagine just from observing us.
This gives us the opportunity to show are kids how to make a good decision. Talking our way through our decision making let’s them hear our thought process. You can do this in everyday life. If you head to the store and are looking to buy some shoes. You find 2 pairs that you really like, but you can only buy one. Talk through how you make your choice between the 2 pairs of shoes.
#2 Give Your Kids Choices
By giving your kids choices you are giving them opportunities to practice making decisions. It can be simple things like choosing the clothes they want to wear or which vegetables they want to eat for dinner.
Remember when giving kids choices, give age appropriate options. For young kids, give giving 2 options that you are happy with. For example, if you want them to eat a vegetable at dinner you can say “Should we have peas or carrots?” instead of “Should we have peas or chips for dinner?”
#3 Work through a Decision with Your Child
Help your child work through a decision. You can guide them through the process by asking them questions. If they are going to have a birthday party, then you can help them make decisions about who to invite, what the theme will be, where to have the party, etc.
#4 Natural Consequences for Choices
Natural consequences are a very valuable way to learn the difference between good decisions and bad decisions. Don’t try to protect your kids from every problem they face. It’s important that your kid experience mistakes so that they can learn to adjust their thinking in the future.
Remember to have a conversation with them about their mistakes and what they have learned from their choices that they made.
#5 Help Your Kid Know Who They Are
Kids who have a sense of identity make better choices and have more confidence. Help your kids find their strengths and weaknesses in school and extracurricular activities. Find out what they are interested in and help them to work towards goals in their interests. This can help your child feel more secure in who they are, especially if you can support them in their interest.
#6 Making Mistakes Help Us Grow
Making a decision or choice can be stressful if you’re always worried about making the right choice. Kids can be overwhelmed if they just can’t figure out what choice to make.
We don’t always make the best choices as kids or adults. Instead of allowing mistakes to define who we are, teach your kids that mistakes are the way that we grow and become better. We will have to face natural consequences, but that is not the end. You get to change your behavior and next time you will be able to make a better choice.