- Counselor's Corner
How do we help our kids make decisions?
Today is a big day for our 8th grade class. Today they receive the news they have been waiting for…which high schools will I be accepted to attend? There are so many emotions that lead up to a day like today. There is stress, anxiety, anticipation, and excitement. They have worked so hard to get to this moment. Although today seems like it would be the end of a long journey, it is actually just the beginning. Today marks the start of the decision-making process. Today our Class of 2021 decides where they want to spend the next four years of their lives.
As someone who has been with this class since they were in 3rd grade, I know what today means to our students. I also know that our 8th graders are not the only students who have to make difficult decisions. All of our students, from ages 2-14, are faced with decisions every day. Will I do my homework when I’d rather watch TikTok videos? Do I reach out to my peer who seems to be lonely? Do I apologize for the comment that hurt my friend? Do I speak up for myself and tell my teacher I do not understand their lesson? Our students not only spend their school days learning math, science, and the arts. Our students also spend their day making several decisions. We, as the adults in their lives, guide them to make smart decisions.
It can be easy to give children the answer to the decision they need to make. It may certainly save time, but it does not allow them to think for themselves. Here a few tips in playing a supporting role to your child’s decision-making:
Let Them Fail: Yes, you read that right! Sometimes the best lessons are learned from our failures. If we jump in to rescue every time we see our child may make the “wrong decision,” our children will never learn what it means to pick themselves up after a fall. It is hard to watch someone make the wrong choice, but so much can be learned from the process.
Remind Them of Their Goals: Guiding a child to making a decision can simply be reminding them of the goals they set. “Mom, can I watch TV?” “Well, you can but I thought you had a goal of making an A in math this trimester. Does watching TV help you towards that goal?” In this example, posing this question does not make the decision for them, but it does remind the child of the goals they set for themselves.
Encourage Action: There will be times when your child seems like they are going in slow motion, or even frozen, when trying to make a decision. And the decision may be time-sensitive. It is important to encourage your child and give them options. But it is also important to share that should they not be able to make the decision, you will make it for them. The “…but Dad I did not want to wear that!!!” comment can be responded with “Well, we have to go to now, but I can’t wait to see what you decide to wear tomorrow!”
As adults we know decision-making can be difficult. We have to remember our kids make difficult decisions too. And we have the blessing of coaching them along the way!
Congratulations to our 8th graders on making an important decision in the coming weeks. I am so proud of each of you!
Elise N. Banks, M.S., LPC