Monday, August 1, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Making wise decisions can be confusing and overwhelming.  Ask anyone who has had to choose an insurance company, a doctor from a network or a congressperson.  Making the wrong choice or no choice can have an unpleasant outcome and can make you feel helpless, this is not what we want for out children.  Let's guide them into making educated decisions about their lives.  You can start this at an early age.  Childdren have preferences and want to have an element of control over themselves and their environment.

I have created a 4 step system that will help children "Look befor they leap" into a choice.  As a matter of fact using the letters in LEAP will help you remember this system.

Knowing what type of question to ask is essential when giving children choices.  Take a look at the following 2 questions to see the difference:
  1. What would you like for lunch?
  2. Would you like a turkey or a peanut butter sandwich?
The first question offers unlimited options, many which you may not have or want your child to have.  Therefore:
Limit the choices
Offering a choice between two or three things is a great way to start helping children make their own decisions.

Sometimes children will not be able to make a choice and will say "no".  Therefore:
Eliminate negative responses
Look at the following questions to see the difference:
  1. Would you like to help me with the dusting or folding the laundry?
  2. Would you rather dust or fold the laundry?
The first question gives a choice but also gives the option to refuse.  The second question eliminates the chance to say "no".

If there is a certain choice you would like your child to make, remember to make it the most
Attractive Option
Look at the following questions:
  1. Do you want to do your homework now or later?
  2. Do you want to do your homework now while I make dinner and can help you or later while the rest of the family is watching a (DVD)?
When offering choices in this way, you are basically helping the child think through the options and come up with a wise choice.

It is a really good idea to talk with your child about choices he or she makes, so:
Parlay choices into discussions
When a child makes a questionable choice or a choice you didn't exdpect, it is always good to ask them why they chose that option.  Opening up a discussion with your child gives you insight into the way their mind works.  Always remind them that you are there to help.  Let them know that you will be happy to talk them through any decisions they need to make. 

Children have many decisions to make during the day and your guidance is important to them.  Children choose friends, recess activities, books to read, music to listen to and games to play.  Talking with your child about what motivates him or her to make a choice is the first step, standing by their decisions is the next step.

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