Learning to make decisions begins with learning to recognize and respond to provided choices. As parents and mentors we can cultivate decision making skills, as well as leadership mentalities from a young age.
Confidence in your choices.
Trust in your decisions.
Learning that you are capable of making competent and successful choices results in FREEDOMS. Freedom to explore new interests, freedom to solve new problems, freedom to grow through the uncomfortable and into successes.
For young children, even toddlers, we can provide them with opportunities to make choices, while still providing parental or adult guidance. This may require us to step out of our own comfort zones or add time into our routines (relinquishing control so that our children can exert some in a productive way). We can lay out different clothing in the morning, and allow them to choose what they want to wear. When we pack lunch we can lay different snacks out, and ask them which they would like to have. If it’s family movie night allowing our children to select the movie, and explain WHY they think it’s the best choice for the FAMILY, not just for them. With my older students, we work on decision making in accordance with time management. We make a list of what needs to be done, but they can choose the order we complete the tasks. We trial doing what is harder for us first, or starting with what is easy for us first. We have a motto in our sessions that “the choice is yours…and the consequence is yours.”
As an adult, and with my older students I am a big fan of the 3 Cs.
CHOICE. CONSEQUENCE. CONTROL.
Reflecting on our actions and decisions. What was your Choice? What was the Consequence? How could and couldn’t you have Controlled it? Journaling using these can be helpful for children or adults. Would you make the same decision again for a similar problem OR are you thinking of another decision that you will use for a similar problem next time? With children, you can talk about the 3 Cs right after they make a choice, whether that choice was expected (had a pretty good outcome) or unexpected (didn’t really work out as planned).
This kind of mapping or connection helps teach that making decisions is an important skill, but we also need to understand the outcomes, and take ownership of our actions. How great that we as people get to own our actions! It is a FREEDOM. We have the opportunity to grow and learn from our consequences, failures, and successes!
As adults we model decision making skills for our children. We also model our reactions to our decisions. Do we make excuses OR do we make connections and corrections? Do we stress over every little choice OR do we model positive dialogue and self-trust?
We all need structure and guidance in all stages of life. Moreover, teaching our next generation that there is time for choices, and that they are capable of great ones, helps light the minds of our next great leaders.