Helping kids make good decisions – Parents Guide

How can we help our kids learn to make good decisions?

There are a few things we need to remember when helping kids to learn how to make a good decision.

  1. Good decisions are based upon knowledge.
  2. It takes practice to make good decisions.
  3. Emotions shouldn’t guide your decision.
  4. Know the decision process.
  5. When we explain the outcomes of each choice we are teaching them – not negotiating the decision.
  6. Children need to learn to comply with the good decisions you make for them.
  7. Children need to practice making good decisions.

Good decisions are based upon us knowing the facts and outcomes of each choice. How can children understand all the outcomes of each decision?  That is why we need to model this skill.  The more they see us making good decisions, the easier it is for them to learn to make their own.  It doesn’t mean that you need to explain every decision, but you will need to put the time in to explain some of the processes you go through for decisions which they can understand, eg why you wear a long sleeve shirt and not a singlet on cold days.  Helping them to understand consequences of each decision.  It is imperative however, that your children know that when you explain how you came up with your decision, it isn’t a negotiation.  You are teaching.  For example, you decided to go to Mc Donalds instead of KFC as there are gluten free options at Mc Donalds so everyone in the family can eat, even though they might have wanted KFC.  These sorts of decisions are excellent examples of making good decisions.

Once you have modeled good decisions, then your kids need to take baby steps and start to make decisions on their own.  The most important thing is to let them make mistakes on their decisions which won’t matter to their future.  This means that they start to understand consequences of decisions. Some examples of practicing good decisions.

  • Choose if you wear a long sleeve shirt or a short sleeve t-shirt. Explain that it is going to be cold outside because it is winter or if it is summer it will be hot today.
  • A jumper or an umbrella. If they choose the wrong one, let them get wet or go cold for a while and then bring out the jumper.  They need to experience the consequences of their decision.  If you save them, but they don’t learn, then maybe they need you to not fix it next time.
  • What ice-cream to choose.

Decisions you should never let your child make:

  • What school they are going to go to. Remember that they can be part of the decision, but they are not aware of all the consequences that this huge decision can impact, therefore cannot make the final decision.
  • Life decisions such as;  What car to buy or Where to live. Children will have very different perceptions on where they want to live based up their immediate need, and as this changes so quickly for kids, they shouldn’t make these types of decisions.  Remember that children have a small amount of life experience compared to yourselves.  Children need to live a little before making these big life decisions.
  • Colour of the outside of your house.
  • Decisions effecting the Budget.

Remember that children will push your boundaries. Make your life easy by teaching your kids that your decisions are based upon reasoning and that once your decision is made, it is final.  They will try to change your mind and nag at you,  but the less you give in, the less they will try in the future.  Consistency in parenting is of the utmost importance.

Good decision making is built upon experience so let them experience the consequences of their decisions.  That’s what good parents do well.


Amanda Just