Good decision is a key to a happy life. But good decision making is not a skill some of us are naturally blessed with, while poor decision making is a handicap others are born with.
Courage, education, or the ageing process doesn’t automatically produce better decision makers. Spending time with good decision makers is wise, it doesn’t rub off on you. And the earlier you teach this skill to your children, the better.
So teach your children the following principles:
1. The consequences you get are the result of the choices you make. Let your children know it’s not their circumstances, but decisions they make about them, that govern their lives. You may think your children know this, but they don’t. They are not stupid, they need guidance. Be free with them and let them know this. Create a time for them. Whatever they learn from you sticks because you will teach them in love and you would want the best for them. They trust you and this will make them confide in you.
2. You will always have options. Children commonly feel powerless and hopeless when reacting to negative circumstances. They tend to be thinkers, concluding that things are either all good or all bad. Teach them both because things can be bad yet you can choose to make good decisions about them. Thinking frequently produces children who become pessimistic, disempowered, easily manipulated, depressed adults.
Knowing they always have good options prevents circumstances from dictating their lives.
For their lives to go right, your children must learn to think right. So teach them to ask:
1. “What are my options in this situation?”
But do it with the right attitude. If your face is like thunder when you talk to them, they will run for cover. Brainstorm with them, writing down every option that is offered. Tell them that no answers are wrong and no idea will be judged as silly; all suggestions are accepted and valued. You’re building their creative mind, encouraging them to think for themselves.
2. “What benefits come from each option?”
The goal is not to coerce them, but for them to discover and embrace the truth for themselves. And that comes through patience, not pressure. Ask them to list which benefits seem most important to them.
3. “What negative consequences come from each option?”
Children can be brutally honest. It’s okay; it’s just part of learning God’s cause-and-effect law of sowing and reaping. Indeed, many adult regrets could have been avoided by following this law. Don’t preach or rant about how terrible the consequences are. Teach them to question themselves, “Am I willing to accept the consequences? How would they change my life?”
4. “What personal values are involved in this decision?”
Values-based decisions call us to the high road rather than the path of least resistance. Suggest some Godly values as primers, such as truthfulness, trustworthiness, loyalty, responsibility, compassion, friendship, self-denial, courage, honour, faith, etc. Break it down to become small and simpler for younger children, but never miss your opportunity.