How to Teach Your Kids Decision Making Skills
Comedian Buddy Hackett once said: “When I was a child, my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.”
How can your kids become good decision makers?
Following directions, respecting the rules and following through with their responsibilities are your basic wishes when it comes to defining “compliance” for your kids.
Every day your kids face choices: to behave or misbehave (and to comply or be non-compliant). If your kids are busy making good choices each day, then they won’t have time to make poor choices!
The goal here is mainly to get your kids busy making better decisions.
Over the years, the families I’ve trained have used six methods to guide and direct their kids toward making better choices. In this article we will discuss #1:
This method is of paramount importance, especially with young children, who are just learning about freedom, responsibility and how to make better choices when faced with decisions in their environment.
A developing mind may not even know how to recognize when a choice exists. For example, let’s say you tell your six year old to leave you alone and go play in her room.
In response she whines, “I don’t have anything to play with!” You stand there with your jaw hanging because you’re aware of the dozens of toys in her room.
Remember, in your kid’s mind at that moment, it is difficult for her to recognize that she has choices.
Instead of giving your child a vague command (a general suggestion) such as “Go play,” you should try: “Sweetie, you have two choices: you can go play with your puzzles or you can read a book.” In other words, pick two of her preferred activities that are appropriate for the setting.
Make sure the choices you offer are:
- Appropriate (practical, safe and within you child’s ability)
- Attractive (something your child enjoys and prefers)
- Available (the choice is accessible to your child without your help)
For young kids, making a good decision comes down to having choices first. Making options clear and obvious to them just makes the decision making process much easier for them. When offering choices, make sure you are clear, concise and concrete.
- Clear – Use simple words and phrases in the form of a command, not a question.
- Concise – Keep it brief! Being concise is important if you want to maintain the kid’s attention.
- Concrete – Don’t be vague. Offer choices that are real and specific. Remember, the choices you offer are based on what is attractive to your kids – not you!
In our next article we will discuss method #2 – Providing clear guidelines to promote good decisions.
Article #3: Rewarding Good Decision Making
Article #4: Allowing Kids to Make Some Poor Decisions
Article #5: How to Behaving When Your Children are Behaving
This is an excerpt from my book “Create Happy Kids”. You can order your copy by clicking on the “Buy Now” button on the right.
You can hire Dr. Sherkat for your next parenting workshop, conference or parenting event.
Call her the next time you need a speaker, she will customize her topic to your needs.