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  • Developing Independent Decision Making

    Posted On 21 February, 2017

    Making decisions can be hard. How often do you reflect on a decision and thought: “I could have thought that through a little better”? Wise decision making is a skill and we can develop this in our children.

     

    A good decision increases the likelihood of success. Becoming a good decision maker involves realising that your first idea is not always your best idea and that you should systematically weigh up alternate ways of doing things (Fuller, 2015). Furthermore, children often focus on their immediate wants and do not consider long term consequences. This can be frustrating for parents and carers who can be left to sort out problems at the last minute (www.kidsmatter.edu.au)

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     As parents, we see examples of this regularly. Has your child ever chosen to participate in an activity only to suddenly choose not to? Or, perhaps, homework has not been completed because they chose to watch TV or play on the iPad? Additionally, young people may choose to misbehave even though they know what the behavioural expectations are. How many times do you have to ask your son or daughter to do something and then threaten with consequences if it is not done?

     

     We must remember that considered decision making takes time to learn and should improve with age and experience. Children need adult guidance to develop their decision-making skills and understand the consequences of their actions (www.kidsmatter.edu.au). Decisions are like crossroads in your life (Fuller, 2015) and with the right prompting and asking questions to help them think through steps, children can identify appropriate choices to make.

     

    Decision making steps

    1.

    Problem

    What do you have to decide about?

    2.

    Want

    What do you want to achieve eg: choosing to do which after school activity? Am I doing this to get fit, make friends, have fun, learn a new skill?

    3.

    Choices

    What are my choices?

    4.

    Compare

    Weigh up the pros and cons of each option and choose the best one.

    5.

    Act

    Put your choices into action and then check how it works.

     

    To learn to use decision making skills, children need to be shown how to use the steps and given opportunities to use them. Children’s thinking skills develop gradually and so does their capacity for planning ahead and weighing up options. Children do not learn to make decisions overnight; they need to start with the simple things. Practise and experience are necessary for building these skills (www.kidsmatter.edu.au).

     

     Tips for parents and carers:

    1. Modelling is everything. When you are making a decision, think out loud. Let your child hear how you process and what goes into making a decision.
    2. Sit down and go through the decision making steps. For example: choosing an after school activity or organising a birthday party.
    3.  Go through situations and teach children what to consider.
    4. Sometimes, you can’t give them choices. For example, you’re at the park and it’s time to go home. They still have a decision to make: They can be happy or sad (Morgan, 2011).

     

     Andrew Thompson , Assistant Head of Junior School – Dee Why Campus

     

    References:

    Fuller, A. (2015). Unlocking Your Child’s Genius: How to discover and encourage your child’s natural talents. Finch Publishing, Sydney.
    Kids Matter: Helping children to choose wisely. (2012-13). Retrieved February 20, 2017, from https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/sites/default/files/public/KMP_C2_HCMD_HelpingChildrenToChooseWisely.pdf
    Morgan, L. (2011). Raising Good Decision Makers: Helping Kids Learn to Make Decisions. Retrieved February 20, 2017 from  www.parentmap.com/article/helping-kids-learn-to-make-decisions