My son came home from school with a homework assignment dealing with decision making skills and the consequences of his actions. He was having a hard time because the truth is, he doesn’t make that many of his own decisions. We tell him what to eat, when to go to bed, what activities he will be involved in, and for the most part what he wears.
Kids need to make their own decisions sometimes.
This morning I told my son that he had to wear a coat to school because it was too cold outside. He protested. Despite my reluctance to let him out of the house without a jacket, I relented. I can tell him that it’s cold, but he’s not going to know how cold it is unless he finds out for himself. Perhaps it wasn’t that cold, or maybe it was and the next time I tell him that he needs to wear a jacket, he will.
While I would never let my kids do something that could get themselves killed or seriously injured, they won’t truly learn the consequences of something unless they try it for themselves. Take for example the helicopter parents at the playground. If a kid is running around and a parent is always their to scoop them up, the kid will never learn that the potential to get injured exists. How will they know what it’s like to fall if a parent is constantly around to make sure that doesn’t happen?
Success is achieved through experiencing failure.
We all want to see our kids succeed, but you can’t be truly successful unless you know what it’s like to fail. It’s one of the reasons I like my kids to play sports so much. I can’t be on the field and help them kick a ball or swing a bat, those are some things that they have to do on their own. If they score a goal or hit a home run, that’s great… but if they lose or they strike out they will learn so much more and try to be better the next time.
I do help my kids with their homework, but only if they ask me a question about what something means, or if they ask me if what they have already done is right. I never give them the answers and I don’t check to see if everything is correct. I would rather they learn from their teachers whether something is right or not. I’m not always going to be around to correct their mistakes, so I would rather they learn how to correct them themselves.
So how do we improve our kids decision making skills? By getting out of the way and letting them make decisions on their own.