Developing Decision Making Skills – An Important Life Skill

As children grow up, they have to be taught to be independent and allowed to make decisions. Independence gives them the freedom to make choices and by letting them do this, we show them, we trust them and have faith in their ability to make the right choice.

Developing decision-making-skills-an-important-life-skill

The first step is giving information, so that they can make informed choices. Often, teenagers don’t always foresee the result of their decisions and this is where the knowledge comes in, helping them make good decisions especially when we are not around to do their thinking for them  guide them.

Making decisions is not easy even for us as parents as we risk being over-protective or being too lenient with freedom. Our duty is to make sure they have the processes in place along with the opportunity to actually make those decisions, then explain the steps involved, and give practice.

How do I do this?

I’ve always learned by example and follow the same thing with my son. I give him examples – or case studies. I tell him to ask himself the following questions:

  • What is my goal?

(To prepare for an exam)

  • What do I need to do to reach them?

(study well, and this involves planning the portion I will cover every day, setting aside a time for each chunk to cover)

  • What are the advantages and shortcomings of these options?

(advantages – great plan if followed. Shortcomings – if there is extra school work due the next day, it will cut into study time)

  • Which is the best one?

(follow the plan. Wake up an hour earlier every day)

  • Assessment time – what went right what went wrong?

(skipped study hour some days and couldn’t wake up an hour early some days)

  • How can I improve?

(work in an hour of daily study to go through what was taught in school so that studying before exams is easier)

This is only a basic example – but you get what I mean! It also works for working on school assignments, projects and any other event that needs preparation.

Along the way, this also develops self-study skills and a sense of responsibility since, they will be able to decide for themselves and prioritize their work – so you don’t have to hang around with them or hound them to study.

When my son was younger, we helped him develop decision making skills with the following:

  • Help him make a shopping list (planning) and then let him shop, choosing between similar products
  • Telling him stories that involved decision making and asking, what would you have done and why
  • Menu planning  – make him prepare a time table for the week’s menu and build the shopping list for ingredients

These are great life skills too. And children just love to be grown up, don’t they? Leverage it, help them grow into smart people! After all, decision-making is a life skill that helps people live with purpose rather than wander aimlessly.

How do you teach your child decision making skills? Please share!

Vidya Sury is a happy work-at-home Mom, freelance writer, business blogger, aspiring author and social media explorer. She takes one day at a time and enjoys sharing what she learns. She loves coffee, books, music, cooking, DIY, people and life. Her hobbies are collecting smiles and inspiring happiness. She hopes to find the cure for infobesity. She blogs at Vidya SuryCoffee With Mi and Your Medical Guide and tweets as @vidyasury

Editor’s Note : Team Parentous wishes Vidya Sury, a Happy Birthday and every success in the coming year.

  • Dear Team Parentous, thank you for your wonderful wish! 🙂

  • “helping them make good decisions especially when we are not around to (do their thinking for them) guide them.” – Vidya ma’am, thank you for this post. Even as I make my toddler choose between blue socks and brown, I know I am laying the foundation of decision-making, choosing the appropriate and rejecting the irrelevant. It is true that I do not want to do his thinking for him, but I know that when he learns by example/experience he will know who to pick to be the voice in his head – even if it’s his own. And I can hardly wait for a day when he’ll come to me and say with full conviction – ‘Don’t worry. I know!’ 🙂

    • He will, Sakshi. You wait and see. 😀 Thank you!

  • Sunita Rajwade

    Imparting life skills are truly important but life often has different plans and no amount of training on due diligence, the importance of making the right decision etc, will ensure that your child makes the right decision…..

    • True, Sunita. Yet, preparation and practice do not go waste. 🙂 Thank you for your comment!

  • Reema Sahay

    Your posts always open new doors of learning for me as a parent. Of course, I agree that decision making is a very important life skill and must be inculcated from a very young age. Your tips have been noted for future reference. In fact, you know, we sometimes ask our 2-year-old in the store to choose between things. May be it is a small step but I just hope it works out well in the long run 🙂