Teach Your Children to Trust Their Own Judgment

When our children have to face life on their own, they'll need to have already built their own criteria in order to guide themselves. Do you want to know how to help them to do this?
Teach Your Children to Trust Their Own Judgment
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

During adolescence, many parents are astonished, and even disappointed, by their child’s choices. They fail to understand the reason for certain behaviors and feel helpless as they watch their teenagers follow paths that may cause them harm. In order to avoid this, it’s vital to teach children to trust their own judgment starting from their youth.

We mustn’t forget that to educate a child is to prepare them for life; to give them the necessary tools to ride out future storms that they may encounter and to teach them to differentiate right from wrong. Raising a child is an arduous task that requires perseverance and willpower. And, many times, contrary to what our body tells us, it’s more a matter of teaching them to look for answers instead of directly giving them the answers.

The need to shape their own criteria

When children are young, their parents make all the decisions for them. What time they go to bed, what they eat, how they dress, what toys they own, or what school they attend. Even if they listen to the child’s opinion, they decide what clothes they wear and what extracurricular activities they do.

However, with the onset of puberty, it’s healthy and natural for children to begin to demand gradual independence. The first nights at friends’ houses, the first outings, and plans without adult supervision appear and, in short, children begin to emancipate themselves cognitively from their parents.

Teenage girl in her room studying because she trusts her own judgment.

At this crucial stage of identity formation, in which the peer group plays such an important role, it’s essential for teenagers to have certain emotional tools at their disposal. There’ll be many occasions when they’ll have to face peer pressure, challenges from their peers; they’ll have to face the physical insecurities that are so common at this age, and they’ll face important decisions.

For all of these reasons, it’s essential for teenagers to have shaped their own criteria. They must have high self-esteem and self-confidence, they must have ingrained and internalized values and know-how to discern what’s right. Only in this way will they be able to stand firm in the face of external pressure, without falling into inappropriate behavior for fear of not being accepted, and preserve their essence without the need to imitate or please anyone.

How can you teach your children to trust their own judgment?

In order for children to reach puberty with an already formed criterion and to be able to trust it, it’s necessary to teach them to do so from an early age. We must try to convey certain essential values to them, and boost their self-confidence. To do this, we can follow the following guidelines:

  • Punishment can make children obey, but it doesn’t teach them why certain behavior is negative. Therefore, it’s preferable to avoid this method and replace it with dialogue and natural consequences. If, for example, he doesn’t share his toys with other children, instead of taking them away, tell him that this behavior means others won’t want to play with him.
  • Let them decide and experiment. It’s true that, as parents, our children’s wellbeing is our responsibility. But it’s also necessary to give them, from infancy, space for decision-making according to their age, so that they can experience the consequences of their own actions and decisions. Don’t give them everything already done; remember that one day they’ll have to do it by themselves and we need them to learn progressively.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to have enriching dialogues about important issues. Choose movies, books, or stories that deal with values and discuss them with your children. Listen to their opinions, solve their doubts and talk about them.
Mother and daughter talking about important things.

Life-long security

In our eagerness to prevent our children from suffering, it’s tempting to give them the answers and lead the way. However, overprotection will deprive them of confidence in the only being who’ll always be with them: themselves. If they have to make their own mistakes, it’s preferable that they do so in a safe environment, having your support and guidance to overcome their setbacks.

Adolescence is a turbulent and challenging time. However, any parent can rest easy knowing that their children can trust their own judgment. You won’t always be by their side, but if they have this foundation, they’ll be safe for life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.