Our children are faced with hundreds of choices every day (what to eat, what to wear, what cartoons to watch, who to play with), and bigger ones when they grow up (what course to take up, which school to go to, which set of friends to be with). “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” won’t work, so being decisive is a vital skill that they need to develop. Here’s what you can do now to help them learn to make better choices:
Start off with a few options. Your child will likely have a hard time picking just one item at a toy, grocery, or book store. The problem in allowing freedom of choice is having too many choices.
HOW TO HELP: If the decision involves a purchase, gently tell your child to pick two or three of his favorites, or narrow down the choices yourself if the items are pricey. Making successful decisions when the choices are limited will help him develop confidence in his decision-making skills. As your child gets older, expand the number of choices you give him, and the importance of the decisions he can make (e.g., what school activity to participate in, or what time to do his homework).
Weigh the merits. Sometimes, your child’s choices will be limited by time constraints instead of personal preferences. The decision to catch a movie, for instance, may not leave enough time to go to the bookstore later; choosing ballet classes over swimming will mean an extra hour of training after classes. Potential ‘what-ifs’ are hard for the younger ones to fully grasp.
HOW TO HELP: Explaining to your child the pros and cons of a decision will teach him to manage his priorities and allow him to recognize what’s more important.
Allow poor decisions. Sometimes, your child may regret the decision he’s made—e.g., his choice of ice cream wasn’t to his liking, or the book he bought with his savings wasn’t what he expected.
HOW TO HELP: Explain that making mistakes happens sometimes, and while he may not be very happy with how things turned out, he can learn from the experience and make better decisions in the future. Bad decision making is an essential part of our children’s road to maturity and, if handled properly, it can play a powerful role in their becoming good decision-makers.
Regularly talk through your decisions. You’re at the mall and you want something but don’t buy it. Use this as an example and talk to your child about how and why you decided that way.
HOW TO HELP: Explain your thought process, priorities, and motives. “I would like to buy a new pair of shoes, but we’ll be needing extra cash for the groceries, so I’ll just buy those shoes next time.” Tell him about decisions you’ve made in the past— good ones, bad ones, and hard ones. The beauty of sharing our history is that our children can learn the easy way what we learned the hard way.
Original article from Working Mom’s August 2014 issue, written by Jack Alexander C. Herrin, MD. Check out more exciting stories in the latest issue of Working Mom available in bookstores and on newsstands for P120. Download the Working Mom Magazine app for access to all digital editions on your tablet or smartphone, available in Zinio, and Buqo Digital Newsstands. Like Working Mom on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ WorkingMom.Magazine) and follow them on Twitter and Instagram (@WokingMomMag).
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