A teen’s life is full of both small and big decisions. From deciding what to do after high school, studying for a test or playing video games, to standing up for what they believe in, our teens are learning one of life’s important skills. One of the greatest tools we can give our teens is teaching our teens how to make a decision. Before my kids leave my house, I want to equip them with strategies and skills to face the many different problems and situations they will encounter. Here are some key tools for how to teach teens how to make a decision.
Identify the Problem
Sometimes one of the biggest struggles for kids is simply identifying the problem. Things feel overwhelming or hard and they don’t know why.
Start by asking questions. “Wow, it seems like you are really overwhelmed with school right now, what’s going on? Or “It looks like you are stuck on that paper, tell me what you are writing about.”
Listen to your child and reflect back what you are hearing them say, sometimes they just need help putting words to the issue.
My natural tendency is to want to step in and tell my child how they can fix their problem. But fixing it doesn’t help them learn how to do it for themselves. They just learn to rely on me.
Start by helping brainstorm different solutions. You might ask: “What do you think you think the next step is in fixing the problem?” “Do you need my help with anything?”
Encourage them to come up with a few ideas before you jump in.
Before choosing a solution, encourage your child to look at the pro’s and cons for each idea. Help them think about the short and long term impacts of each solution.
Help them think through if they need to take a break and step away for a bit before solving the problem. Sometimes they need a snack or a hug before making a decision. Encourage them to make the decision for themselves. You might say something like, “I trust you to make this decision. It sounds like you know what you need to do.”
Here’s a printable worksheet you can use to help your teen think through making a decision.
It can be hard watching our children run into small and big hurdles in life. Take the time to encourage them to think about why the hurdle is there, how they can get over it or around, and cheer them along the way!
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