by Omolola Olorunnisola
Daily living comes with making different decisions. Whether it’s what cloth to wear or what food to eat, decision-making is very much part of our daily lives. And you will agree with me when I say decision-making can sometimes be a daunting task, even for adults. How much more children. Given the variety of choices available to children and the influence their peers have on them, it is vital that kids have their decision-making game locked down.
Being decisive helps kids become more responsible, confident and independent. It is one of the life skills that determine the kind of life we live and what eventually becomes of a person. Our lives are shaped by the choices we make. Hence, the need for us to provide the necessary guidance for our children to be able to ace decision-making.
Here are a few tips that can guide you in helping your children make good decisions:
Let Them Know Decisions Have Consequences
This is general knowledge. Our decisions have consequences and our children should know this. For example, if you catch your teenager smoking or gambling. Don’t just scold and ground him/her for a couple of days, let them see pictures of the lungs of smokers and read about how smokers die of cancer or read together stories of gambling addicts that lose everything to gambling. If they steal, let them see a short documentary on Nigerian prisons. This will create a clear image of the consequences of their actions in their subconscious. It may sound a little extreme, but shielding children from the ugly reality of the consequences of their actions does them no good. It is important that they are aware.
According to Michelle P. Maidenberg, Clinical Director of the Westchester Group Works in Harrison, New York, when kids ask themselves questions or make compare-and-contrast evaluations, they’re actually slowing down their thought process, so they are better able to think things through. By creating scenarios and asking them what they would do, you aid their decision-making ability. You can play the ‘what if’ game. Ask them what they would do in different scenarios. For example, what would they do if they won a million naira, how would they handle a situation where two of their close friends were at logger heads and they were being asked to take sides. This will help prepare their minds for when difficult decisions have to be made.
Help Them be Self-Aware
Knowing yourself breeds confidence and helps in making better life decisions. If most people were self-aware, they would have taken different career decisions, some won’t be married, and some won’t have children at all. Help your children become self-aware by guiding them in identifying their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes, their passions and interests. Doing this will definitely aid them in making wise and favourable decisions.
Allow for Errors
As parents, we naturally want to shield our children from making mistakes. But lessons are learned from experience. Allow them to make a few mistakes and then step in afterwards to emphasize the lessons that should be learned and how such situations should be handled next time.
For younger children, it would help a lot if they had limited options to choose from. Presenting them with so many options whenever they need to make a choice gets them confused. You should also let them know that some decisions need to be thought through while others can be made at the snap of a finger.
Lastly, it is important that we are role models and examples that our children can emulate. If you want your children to make wise decisions, show them how your decisions have led you to become a better person or otherwise. Be humble enough to show them the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learnt from them.
Decision-making is a crucial part of life, so it is important that our children get it right.