Help your kids become better decision makers

Hope you're not making them for them.

The older your kids get, the better they'll need to be.

This means they'll need plenty of practice. And one of the most important things for us is to help them develop the wisdom to discern what to think and do.

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Here are 5 tips:

1. Be fair and clear:

This is a big reason for growing our interior lives—we need to get clearer about our own values, beliefs, and behaviors to see well. Our maturity is foundational for our kids’ development in becoming good decision makers. We help them define what is fair and what’s not and how to discern it. It’s essential that parameters are consistent but not statically simple. They don’t have to like our limits but as they get older and their thinking gets more developed, will our expectations and perspectives make sense? It’s absolutely essential that we aren’t simply setting limits blindly according to outdated rules and limiting beliefs

2. Use your voice and no’s effectively:

Our tone should be casual and comfortable. We want to make ourselves easy to talk to and easy to listen to. Extremes can compromise our relationships and kill desire to be with each other. We want our voices to cultivate love and belonging, esteem and friendship. Aim not to shout unless you’re warning them of danger. Use a serious tone to teach what ‘no’ means—firmly expressing the gravity of the limit with confidence and conviction.

3. Be proactive and intentional: Structure regular family meetings

  • Talk about goals, challenges, and concerns.
  • Encourage sharing with unloaded questions and nonjudgmental answers.
  • Discuss concerns and rules to clear up expectations and consequences.
  • Structuring in these times gives a platform for every member of the family to express and talk about whatever is on their minds and hearts. It also helps identify more explicitly, the direction and progress of each member. As you facilitate this ongoing discipline, you can gain a greater awareness of what your family is about. This should not be a stress-producing time. To make valuable and productive, you’ll need to work on the general climate of relationships. If the ‘air’ is good, family meetings will have a much greater chance of being useful and sustainable. If relationships aren’t healthy, then that needs to be prioritized. 

4. Give Choices

Making choices, good and bad ones, is a very important part of growing wisdom for success and development. As time goes on, the weight of the decisions should increase; our children will need them to gain the practice and experience to be ready for life without us. This will also give them the confidence of a deep, healthy esteem for themselves.

  • Which 2 toys do you want to take?
  • Do you want to go to the beach or the park?
  • Do you want to have a snack first or after you finish your homework?

As your kids become adolescents, give them choices concerning their growing responsibilities:

  • When are you going to pick up and switch the laundry?
  • What will you do about your grades in math?When do you want to spend time with us?
  • How do you want to better manage your time?

Some of you may be thinking that giving your children these choices will create more problems than peace. You’re absolutely right, they will; and that’s exactly what needs to happen. It’s the prevention of problems and the drive to control that snowballs into cultures of ineffective, dysfunctional parenting strategies. But when we embrace the messiness, ready to learn and change, it sets the stage for the creation of a growth-centered culture. 

Giving choices helps our kids learn from mistakes and successes but more importantly, they shape our culture. Healthily managing bad decisions with empathy and consequences—sincerely and patiently expressing belief in them to figure things out—will give them a greater sense of love and belonging and self-esteem. This substantially communicates unconditional love, the ultimate value in the culture we want for our homes.

5. Follow through with Consequences

Consequences, not incessant talk make our boundaries effective. But they are not about punishment; they aren’t intended to make our kids ‘learn their lessons’. They should serve the purpose of helping our kids think, clearly, deeply, authentically so they can figure out and decide what they want to do to change.