Making good decisions is no small feat, especially for little ones who tend to fall more on the impulsive side (every kid). It’s up to us parents to guide our kids in the decision-making process. To help you out, we’ve gathered practical tips for letting go at the right time, and small ways you can help them become confident, independent kids. Read on to see them all.
1. Let your child be the boss for one hour a day.
This works exceptionally well with younger children who are given very few choices in their daily lives. Allowing your kid to take charge of a limited amount of time per day and within your safety parameters encourages him to feel empowered. According to La Petite Academy, “We need to respect children’s "no" wishes some of the time so that they have a healthy experience of their own power. Later on, children who have had earlier experiences of themselves as people whose choices are respected will be the ones who can say “no” when a peer encourages them to do something they may not want to do.”
2. Give kids the power to learn healthier screen time habits.
There isn’t a parent in America who doesn’t struggle, moan or groan about their kid’s internet usage. Consider implementing a parental control app like unGlue. It works on every device, whether your kid is home or away. The Home Monitor keeps track of everyone's internet activity, sets Internet Schedules, which allow limited access to entertainment (kids can still use the tech if they need it for homework) at certain times and routinely blocks adult content, as the unGlue regularly updates its list of red-flag sites. There's even a unique Steps 4 Time™ feature, which allows kids to trade steps taken for screentime.
3. Role play to help children find their voice and prepare them to make decisions on their own.
Michele Gathrid, Director of Circle Of Children preschool in Los Angeles, suggests, “practice and role play a scenario so that your child is equipped with many alternatives. Surprises often make children feel quiet, shy and more reserved. Ask questions like: What is another way you can tell Sidney you do not want to play in the sandbox? Or If Abby says NO, and you don’t like her answer, what can you do? What can you say?"
4. Create a visual board of what making a good decision looks like.
Every good decision is the sum of its parts. Parents who identify and visually outline the steps to making good choices give their kids a valuable and practical tool. Create a decision-making model on a visual board—like this one from The Corner on Character—and keep copies of it around the house and in your kid’s backpack to use as a reference. If your child has his own phone, take a photo and save it there. With a visual cue like this, your kids will sharpen their (good) decision-making skills in no time!
5. Ask your kid to draft a Pros and Cons list.
With their jam-packed schedules, kids often have to decide on the fly which activity they'd rather do: go to a friend’s birthday party or my sister’s softball game? To make an otherwise tough decision easier and faster, ask your kids to take a moment and sit down with pencil and paper to create a Pros and Cons list. Have your child assign all the positive aspects of the Pros and all the negative to the Cons, and then weigh them against one another. This will help her think analytically about the situation and consider different perspectives to make a well-informed choice.
6. Make your kids responsible for at least one thing a day.
As the adage goes, with freedom comes responsibility. For children to grow and gain independence (and ultimately make good decisions), we must teach them to be responsible. It’s never too early to teach kids responsibility, and even toddlers are receptive to small tasks. Try giving a two-year-old an item such as a water bottle or cup, and ask them to look after it throughout the day. They will be in charge of having it on hand whenever they need or want something to drink. Before long, you’ll have a surprisingly accountable and well-hydrated toddler running around.
7. Let kids choose which vegetable they’ll eat for dinner.
When it comes to eating healthy, kids rarely make good decisions. In a perfect world, children would eat a rainbow of veggies throughout the day. But in our world, it’s just not going to happen. If your kid has a favorite, offer it regularly until their palettes evolve. Cucumbers three nights a week is better than no kale at all! It might take a while, but most children eventually make good (ok, better) decisions regarding vegetables.
8. Help your child learn about fiscal responsibility.
We like the BusyKid app, which combines good ole household chores and earnings with tech-driven investing to help your child learn the real value of a dollar. Families use the app to encourage kids to do their chores without parents needing to micromanage their work. Each task is assigned a monetary value (established by parents) which can be redeemed for cash, gift card purchases, put in a savings account or used to invest in the stock market with companies like Apple, Nike, and Disney.
9. Let your kid ride a bike to school (or somewhere) ... alone.
Perhaps one of the most celebrated rites of passage for any child is mastering a bike. Riding a bike offers kids a chance to foster their independence and experience more freedom. When is the right time? Gavin De Becker, the author of The Gift of Fear, believes it’s "a matter of cognitive skills, reasoning and the ability to follow directions. Parents who teach and quiz their children on safety and strangers will arm them with the tools they need to have a meaningful and liberating ride."
— Janelle Connor
Featured image: iStock