Teaching Children Confidence in Decision Making


It may be a scary thought for some, but there will come a day in every parent’s life when they realize that their child can make decisions all by himself. It might be a few years or more before that time will come, but giving your child the tools he needs to make good decisions will be useful to him when it does.

By far one of the hardest parts about making a decision is being confident in your choice. Whether it’s what to wear to an important event or occasion or what college to attend, having confidence in his decisions can help your child become a successful adult.

That, of course, is easier said than done. Few of us feel truly confident in all of our decisions. One way to help your child gain confidence in his decisions is to help him think through his choices before he makes them. Talk about the desired outcome he wants and then discuss which of his possible choices would most likely lead to that desired outcome.

One simple example of this strategy is the decision to study versus hanging out with friends. If your child’s desired outcome is to do well in school but still spend time with friends on the weeknights, ask him questions that could lead to a possible decision. Is there a way he can have both? Could he study first and then go out to play when he is finished?

While sometimes your child won’t have a choice in the matter, when he does its important to let him at least try to come to a good decision by himself. Carol Merchiore’s son David learns to make good decisions through his martial arts training.

“David has developed a maturity in making choices,” she said. “He has the confidence to make a decision and live with it.”

David has already learned one of the hardest parts of decision making: living with the results. Everyone makes “bad decisions” at some point or another, but what’s more important is how you handle the consequences. Since you can’t go back and change the past, the only thing you can do is make the best out of your situation, which could even work in your child’s favor.

One of the most difficult times for your child to do this may be when you decide that his actions warrant punishment. Most of the time your child will probably think it is radically unfair for him to be grounded. You, however, know that sometimes it is necessary so that he can learn from his bad decisions not to make the same mistake twice. He has to live with the consequences of his actions and learn to make the best out of them.

This also applies to the things that are out of our control. While having the right information to make a good decision is usually important, sometimes we are not even given a choice. For example, if your child has a test on something that he is struggling with, he can’t choose to take the test later. He has to take it on the day assigned; however, he can make the best out of an unfavorable situation by using the time he has to study, prepare, and ask a teacher, tutor or parent for extra help. The added pressure of the test could even be the extra push he needs to help him understand the material.

While there are many decisions that you will make for your child until he is mature enough to make the right choice himself, letting him handle smaller decisions now will be good practice for when his decisions carry more weight. It will teach him that he is in control of his own fate.

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