Decision-making is crucial to any point in a child’s life. Whether it’s picking their best friend, knowing which healthy foods they should eat, or choosing a degree they want to take for college–allowing your kids to understand the importance of good-decision making can help shape the outcomes of their lives. There are many benefits in teaching children to make wise choices:
- It can help foster independence;
- It can help them stay away from negative influences that can impact their lives;
- It can also help build confidence in oneself;
- And it can help you rest assured that your child is doing fine regardless if you intervene or not.
Although it can be a challenge to train children to make good decisions, these advantages can make your mindful parenting worth the effort. Though some of your little (and not-so-little) ones may be stubborn and headstrong, they will be grateful for the values you will be instilling onto them.
Here are some helpful tips that can guide you in training your children to be good decision-makers:
Allow your children to make mistakes
As the old adage goes, “Experience is the best teacher”. Some parents think that if they allow their children to fail or make mistakes, it will hurt their self-confidence. Thus, their kids may grow to be sensitive, spoiled, or worse–a prey in a seemingly harsh realities of life.
For children to make good decisions, you must give them opportunities to grow. Growing happens when they make mistakes. Teach them that mistakes are a part of life, but it doesn’t mean that they are a failure. There is a difference in failing and seeing oneself as a failure. When you teach them the mindset of resilience, they will pick up themselves, learn from it, and come back for the better.
Show them the realities of life
Relating to the first tip, mistakes are one of the realities of life. However, this is just one facet of the “real world”. A natural instinct of a parent is to protect their child from the harshness of the outside world, but sometimes, this type of “helicopter parenting” can be detrimental to their growth.
A part of learning how to make good decisions is to allow them to witness the realities of life. For example, you can allow your child to participate in games, contests, competitions on areas they are interested in. You can also help them see life in other people’s shoes by encouraging them to volunteer for charities even at a young age. Even the day-to-day things that your kids can see outside and how others interact with them can teach valuable lessons in decision-making.
Teach them the importance of introspection
Introspection is the ability to contemplate on one’s own thoughts and feelings. People who introspect understand themselves more, and thus are better capable to respond to the outer environment. When children act out of immediate emotion and without thinking things through, this is where regret over choices usually stem from.
Use moments of challenges to teach your children how to introspect. As a young child, teach them to think if what they are feeling is rational, and if it can help the situation once they decide to act on those feelings. It can also help to teach them about how others would feel given the situation. This can help them relate better with others, understand themselves, and make better choices without relying too heavily on unguarded emotions.
Help your kids develop their interests
Having a strong interest for something helps fuel a passion in life. Whether it’s art, cooking, science, sports, or anything else under the sun, do what you can to support this interest. You can also give them diverse opportunities to explore hobbies that they may like, but be sure not to be resentful if their interests are not what you expected.
Often, children develop a low self-esteem when parents are not supportive of the things they love. This can result to decision-making caused by parental pressure, or even breaking family ties in exchange for other pursuits. If you value your relationship with your child, it is important to give sound advice regarding what you think is best–but be ultimately happy for them if they choose another path. When passion and sound advice comes hand-in-hand, your kids can make better decisions for themselves.
Communicate openly with your children
The tips mentioned above are great, but it is not possible without having open communication between you and your child. It is crucial to foster an inviting environment where children can share their struggles and victories with you as a parent. Some moms and dads may be quick to react when something disappointing happens to their child. They may respond in anger, give the cold shoulder, or even give harsh punishments when something unexpected happens.
This places a barrier between you and your child’s communication. As a result, they may seek comfort and counsel from others, possibly from others who do not have their best interest in mind. They may end up making decisions based on bad counsel, just because they are afraid of opening up to you. When children share, they seek to be understood and supported. Remember what was said about making mistakes? Instead of being angry towards them, remind your children that it is not about being a failure as an individual, but rather using the failure of the circumstance as an opportunity to learn.
Be involved in your child’s growth circle
The opposite of “helicopter parenting” is “selective parenting”. Some moms and dads only think that their role is to train their child at home, and the rest can be done by the teachers, instructors, and other authoritative figures in their lives. They may not choose to be involved, or appear too busy to even get in touch with the people that their child spends time with.
To help your child make wise choices in life, it is best to know what is going on. This does not mean that you will show over-dominance and total control, it just means that you are giving support by understanding the issues that your child may be going through. If you get involved with your child’s growth circle, you can provide them with encouragement and counsel that will allow them to make the right decision about situations that they are facing.
Be an example
Last but definitely not the least, as a parent, you must know how to lead. Whether you choose it or not, you children look up to you as an example. At a child’s early age, many parents observe that youngsters copy their mannerisms and even the way they talk. This is just a small picture of how they will consciously and inevitably adapt your behaviours and decision-making styles.
In order to teach the tips mentioned, you must be able to lead by example–show them that you are a level-headed individual when it comes to challenges, show them through actions that you love your partner (if you have one) as well as your family, and help them witness that making the right choices leads to a better outcome in life.
As you remember these pointers, it is important to remind yourself that you are doing this out of love–it may require you to show firmness and even stern discipline when needed, but if it means having children who are grateful for your lessons–so be it! Mindful parenting is definitely worthwhile.
About the author:
Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. Learn more at patrickbaileys.com