5 Tips for Teaching Children to Make Decisions
Parents should support and guide their children in the decision-making process from early infancy. Doing so provides them with security and clarity. Your role as a parent and guide is extremely important.
Parents often believe that children develop decision-making skills on their own, without any intervention. However, this isn’t true. In the following article, we’ll provide you with key tips that will be of great help when it comes to teaching children to make decisions.
Why is it important to know how to make decisions?
It’s important for children to learn how to make decisions in order to be autonomous. And what is autonomy, exactly? It’s the ability to make decisions without external intervention, and follow one’s own guidelines. Thus, autonomy is the opposite of Jean Piaget’s concept of heteronomous morality.
In simpler terms, teaching children to make decisions is important because it allows them to manage and solve problems efficiently. What’s more, it gives them the ability to do so without assistance.
This doesn’t mean leaving your children alone to fend for themselves. Rather, it’s about giving them the tools they need to do things for themselves and feel satisfied with their decisions as well as the results.
As parents, we of course want our children to be independent, capable and, above all, responsible for their own actions. But these qualities don’t just appear magically.
Rather, they’re abilities that we need to teach in our homes, in a variety of ways. While the measures we take as parents may be simple, they’re also very powerful.
When children are autonomous, they have a healthy self-esteem and confidence in themselves. They’re less afraid of making mistakes when it comes to solving problems and, in general, they’re more willing to evaluate what is best and why.
Keys for teaching children to make decisions
When it comes to teaching children to make decisions, it’s important to take their age into account. According to this detail, we can decide which method is best.
Parents can’t expect the same from a 3-year-old as they do from an 8-year-old. Likewise, they need to provide a good example and keep an open attitude when it comes to providing explanations and clarifications, as often as necessary.
Some of the most common tools that parents use in teaching children to make decisions are the following:
1. Give your children tasks or responsibilities
According to their age and level of development, children can take responsibility for certain tasks. For example, they can decide what clothing to wear on a given day, put away their toys, make their beds, tidy up, etc.
2. Let your children do things on their own
Once you’ve clearly explained an activity to your children, give them the opportunity to try it alone. Of course, you’ll need to provide proper supervision, but it’s important to give them the space to experiment.
If they ask for help or can’t manage to do it on their own, you’ll be close to give them a hand. You can use this tactic, for example, by allowing them to discover how a new toy works on their own.
3. Encourage them to express themselves clearly
For children who are already learning to speak, you’ll need to teach them how to make requests. For example, if they’re thirsty, the most basic way of meeting that need is by teaching them to say “water.”
In the same way, they need to learn to express when they need to use the bathroom, or when they’re experiencing pain, etc.
Encouraging children to express themselves clearly and precisely when they want something helps them develop language skills. But for this to occur, you first need to teach them and repeat the correct way to ask for something many times.
4. Determine whether to negotiate or not
Just because children can make decisions doesn’t mean they’re exempt from certain rules and norms. For example, your children may be able to choose what clothes to wear – as long as it’s suitable for the occasion and weather.
However, they won’t always have a choice regarding what they eat. It’s up to parents to provide proper nourishment for their children’s development – whether their kids like it or not.
5. Challenge them to think
Playtime is also useful when it comes to teaching children to make decisions. For example, you can take a different toy in each hand and ask your children to choose which one they like the best.
In doing so, you should use questions like: “Which one do your prefer?” or “Which do you think is the best option?” This will motivate your children to think about the decisions they make.
If your children make decisions that you didn’t expect, or that you consider wrong, don’t rush to correct them. First, explain their mistake as well as how they can correct it in the future.
Remember that this is generally a process of trial and error. It’s important to know how to reflect and share in a calm and safe environment in order to learn and improve.