Learning to make decisions is a lifelong skill that can’t be started too early. Throughout a person’s life, they are presented with choices to make on a daily basis. As kids mature, so does their thought process and their ability to make more important decisions. By the time a child becomes a young adult, you want them making smart choices. Childhood is a time when children can make safe selections and learn for the future. So how to begin the process? Experts share their insights and tips.
Laura Doyle has more than 20 years of experience in relationship coaching and is a New York Times Bestselling Author. She explains why it’s important to help children learn decision making skills. “Kids like some autonomy over their life. Kids have to exercise their ability to make decisions and there is a lot of truth that you learn from your mistakes. Kids are little humans and naturally need to express their desires as well.” She continues, “This doesn’t mean that children can decide every aspect of their day to day existence. But adding responsibility as they age will help them to have more and more control over creating the life they will want as an adult.”
Guiding children’s decisions is what Monique Banks and Ariel Banks Baker, founders of BLUEPRINT, have done when helping to plan over 3,000 birthday parties. They just launched a DIY service that provides parents with a blueprint plan to create a magical birthday. “We want our children to be a part of planning a party and giving them a magical day. It is their birthday after all, and it should be a special day. It’s essential that parents ask for their child’s input but also guide the questions to get to the right decision. A child should be asked, for example, ‘Do you want a Field Day or a Pajama Party?’ Ask questions that have a specific answer. Don’t ask open ended questions that lead to answers that a parent cannot manage.”
Bernice Joo, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist with Hello Polygonand mom of three says that it’s a good idea to let kids pick out their own clothes. Just be sure that it’s weather appropriate. She also says that if you’ve tried to have kids pick out their clothes from the night before to be prepared for a decision change and offer positive and supportive feedback. But ultimately, she says, decide that you might just be willing to lose the battle when it comes to influencing your child’s decision about what they wear.
It’s easier to let your kids make a decision when there is a sense of calm. When things are rushed and parents are just trying to get out the door, there’s no time to spend making decisions. Professional Organizer, Christina Giaquinto, who happens to specialize in Modular Closets, suggests creating organized nighttime and morning school routines to help ensure that you leave the house ready to conquer the day instead of feeling rushed and full of stress. Kids are more likely to keep the morning routine going when they know that their decisions helped make their parents and themselves happier.
Senior Director of early childhood education for Primrose Schools, Dr. Maria Shaheen, says that parents should “Find what works and make it fun. Children feel more confident and secure when their routines are familiar and predictable. When you find a routine that works well, follow it closely, so it becomes second hand for your child.” If you’re just starting out with letting your child make more decisions, letting them stick to specific areas where they can start and then build on their decision-making skills. Having a solid routine, especially when there’s fun involved, makes this feel natural.