In Youth Connections Magazine… “Decisions, Decisions… How Can We Prepare Our Children to Make Responsible Choices?”
For the Youth Connections Magazine’s summer issue, we are discussing how you promote responsible decision-making skills in our children and teens. The article offers some guidance on children’s developing sense of what to base their choices on, how parents can support that development along with specific age/stage tips for promoting this essential life skill. Here’s how it begins…
“Decisions, Decisions…How Can We Prepare Our Children to Make Responsible Choices?”
“I don’t like playing anymore, but all my friends are joining the team again,” relays my eleven-year-old son, Ethan, voicing his debate over whether to commit to another season of baseball. He has played for a number of years cultivating valuable friendships along the way. But, as he’s grown, the coaches, parents, and kids alike have become more competitive. And so too has the pressure. Ethan has enjoyed the game less as the emphasis on performance has increased. This spring, he was faced with the challenging decision: Do I continue to do something I’ve always done because my friends expect me to or do I follow my interests and motivation?
Children are at the very beginning stages of developing decision-making skills. They grow from basing decisions on chance with games like “Rock, Paper, Scissors” or “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe” to weighing pros and cons like whether to rejoin a baseball team that’s grown stressful. Then, in the teen years, youth face tempting risks like whether to follow peer pressure to try alcohol despite the fact that most parents — as confirmed in a recent survey of Montana parents — disapprove of underage drinking. Children will increasingly have to decide when to accommodate friends, when to assert their needs, when to show care for others, and when and how they should think ahead about consequences that might result from their actions.
Young children rely on adults to establish and enforce the rules. Their central concern focuses on their own safety and secure attachment to their parents and educators. But, by the age of nine, children move to the next stage of moral development in which the care of others and their social relationships takes priority. This is also a time when children begin inventing their own rules among their peers through games. They weigh social values when decision making like belonging to a friend group, contributing to a team, or meeting parent and teacher expectations.
Also, do check out the https://parentingmontana.org site which contains guidance for each age/stage around hot topic issues like dealing with anger, bullying, making friends, managing homework, dealing with stress and more.