Children make decisions all of the time but often are not aware that they are doing so. The responsibility of parents is to teach children how to make good decisions. There are a number of ways to do this, all of which require communication with your child.
First, a parent needs to help the child clarify what the problem is that is creating the need to make a decision. Discuss the situation with your child and help him or her pinpoint how a situation is seen and also how he or she feels about this situation. This can generate a good discussion and also is valuable for parents so that they can understand how their child thinks. During the discussion, help your child see what might need to be changed.
Next, brainstorm possible solutions, weighing pros and cons of each, and allowing that there may be more then one solution to the problem. Parents need to be good listeners and guide the conversation but not make decisions for their child. Suggest alternatives, point out what the child might have missed, and if your child needs help, step in, but remember that the goal is for the child to decide.
After discussion regarding possible consequences of each solution, allow the child to choose one. The best choice will be the solution that solves the problem but also allows the child to feel good about himself or herself. It might not be the parents first choice, but if the child has made a decision based on the facts and is not in danger from a wrong decision, the choice should be his or hers and can be a great learning experience if a better decision needs to be made after the first incorrect one.
Help the child evaluate the results of the decision. Did it work? Or, did it fail? And, why? Review of this will help the child make a better decision the next time.
All children need to learn to take responsibility for their decisions. They need to be able to admit to making a mistake and then be able to move forward after the mistake, and to not repeat the mistake, if possible. The ultimate goal is for children to be able to make good, sound decisions without parental input and to be able to think through any problem that is encountered.
Remember parents, positive parenting is the key!
For more parenting help, check out the public library in Millville or Vineland, http://millvillepubliclibrary.org; http://vinelandlibrary.org. There’s a great selection of parenting books at either library.