Raise Your Kids to be Good Decision Makers
It usually takes several years for a child to truly learn how to make good decisions. Most of us don’t learn until we reach adulthood, even, which is why you need to get an early start. Part of the battle to be won is dealing with the impulsiveness, and the arrogance, of youth, both issues that tend to diminish with age. Another adversary in this battle is free will; the ability to decide to make decisions, good or bad, against counsel.
What is to be done against such strong opponents? It is cousin to the old expression “discretion is the better part of valor”. You don’t act. You refrain from trying to save a child from a bad decision he or she has made, in other words. Instead, you let the child experience the bad consequences resulting from their actions. Experience is, after all, the best teacher. To that add, negative reinforcement is sometimes necessary. The lesson children should learn from this process is that bad decisions lead to bad results, and if they want to avoid the results, they shouldn’t make any more bad decisions.
Similarly, learning not to make bad decisions is part of another life-long skill – learning to solve one’s own problems. If a child is having difficulty solving a problem, instead of giving the answer, give counsel that helps the child think about the problem in a different way and perhaps ask themselves questions that help solve the issue. Additionally, solving one’s own problems also provides self-confidence. Matched with that is the ability to plan one’s decisions by studying the situation and formulating several possible decisions. Being able to put those decisions into action without emotion clouding their judgement is one of the last steps children tend to master.