5 Ways to Improve Young Children's Decision-Making

By Life Skills Group

Published 31 October 2018 08.55 AM

Childhood is a time filled with enjoyment and discovery, at least when we’re unburdened by the sometimes stressful realities around us. Few things characterise what childhood represents better than learning to make choices and how they cause consequences, from eating a delicious handful of dirt as an infant, to becoming the ‘class clown’ in high school.

It is crucial for young people to understand this process to help empower them to make confident, positive decisions regarding the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of themselves and those around them as they move toward independence. Generally, the most influential figures in this process are family members and teachers as they support these young people at home and during their time in formal education. Therefore it is important for them to recognise ways you can develop such an important life skill.

Five Ways To Improve Children’s  Decision-Making Skills

1. Encourage young people to use decision-making steps

As children develop skills for reflecting on decisions, discuss the following steps and explain how they can be applied to everyday scenarios:

What decision needs to be made

What are the options

Evaluate the options and pick the best one

Act on your choice and see how it works. 

2. Involve them in everyday decisions

Include children in your own decisions and ask them for advice. You could say:

“I’m trying to decide whether to take up rowing or do yoga classes, to increase my level of fitness activity. Which one do you think I should do?”

Then go over the pros and cons of each suggestion so that your child can learn how to thoughtfully consider different options, to then be able to make an informed decision.

3. Give children the chance to practise making choices

Giving young people the opportunity to make their own decisions helps build a sense of independence and empowers them to make choices with integrity. It is important that the decision truly is their own though. In order to empower them to make the right decision, provide them with a few different options that would all be acceptable for you, no matter which one they choose. In this way, you are making them feel confident that they can make good decisions, by then demonstrating interest in their choice, you show that the child’s decision is important. 

4. Encourage children to set goals

One vital skill, that is oftentimes forgotten among children but also adults, is goal setting. Being able to set SMART goals and achieve them is a life skill which when taught at an early age, gives not only focus, but also self-awareness and confidence moving into adulthood. Something as simple as learning to play new sports or learning how to play a musical instrument can be good opportunity to teach goal setting to young people. This shows the importance of decision making in planning and execution, and it then also allows children to form learning pathways, not only in a physical sense, but socially and emotional as well.

5. Ask questions which promote astute decisions

“What do you like about that?”, “What makes this the best option?”, “How would this work?”

These are all examples of good questions you could be asking your children to spark thought-provoking conversations. Such questions allow young people to be mindful of their choices and aware that there will be some sort of reaction or consequence to it.

By no means is this every tool that can teach good decision-making, however it is the perfect place to start!

To teach good decision-making skills is to empower our younger generation, in making positive life choices regarding their social, emotional and physical wellbeing as they navigate the challenges of life moving towards adulthood.


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