Making The Best Choices
By Sally Burgess, Forefront Families
I was watching one of my favorite shows on TV last night. It was the HGTV Property Brothers program. A girl in her 20s was looking to buy a home and had her mother there to help her. It became very clear that this girl could not make decisions ...about anything. It was painful to watch. She kept asking her mother to decide for her or wanted days to make up her mind about such things as home furnishings. I thought, 'It is a tragedy. That mother has not taught her child one of the most important aspects of life...how to make wise decisions and within a short period of time.'
So, how do kids learn to make wise decisions at an early age? The basics must be in place. They need to know parental expectations. They need praise when they follow instructions and also need to know the consequences for not following them. When parents are consistent with training, praising and issuing consequences, kids learn very quickly how to make wise decisions. They must be given many situations to make choices and be given feedback on how well they did.
As a child grows older and is not always directly under the control of his or her parents, they should have learned the general principles of choice and before they make a decision, think it through rather than act impulsively.
Part of good decision-making is learning to be responsible for the choices made and to be 'man' enough to take the consequences. On the news last night we saw the rioting in Baltimore, USA. A teenager had been told by his mother to walk straight home from school and not get involved in the violent protesting going on in the street. He decided to follow his friends and threw rocks at police.
As we watch, a woman came running out of the crowd and started slapping the boy. When he tried to get away, she ran after him and cuffed him round the ears, shouting at him at the same time. It turned out this was the boy's mother and his negative behavior was played over and over on national television for everyone to see. They even ran a follow up story and the teen admitted he had made the wrong choice. Not only will he be prosecuted for dangerous behavior, but he
gravely disappointed his parents by being impulsive and not thinking of the consequences of his actions.
Parents need to encourage open communication so the kids will talk over up-coming decisions. Rather than the parent telling the child what to do, they should walk through a number of scenarios and let the child see what would happen if they made this decisions or that one. It might involve only one person or their decision might impact others. When I was a young mother with 2 small children I decided I wanted to get a University Degree. This could not be just my decision. I would need my husband's help in looking after the children while I studied. When he was happy to do that, I went ahead. It was a choice I was very glad I took, but am grateful for the support of my husband to help me reach my goal.
Poor decisions are the result of children being given no boundaries, being sheltered from the consequences of their poor decisions and when their parent pleads with their child rather than taking charge. Kids in these situations develop an attitude of entitlement and selfishness. This is not preparing them for real life.
Kids will not make wise choices unless they are taught. They learn by
a) Positive parent modeling.
b) Being given clear expectations and consequences from toddlers
through to adulthood.
c) Being given the opportunity to talk through scenarios before making
d) Not being sheltered from their mistakes.
e) Being coached after making wrong choices.
e) Being praised for making wise choices.
If you have any comments or questions on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We invite you to also check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blog site at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com for further assistance.