Decision-making affects everyday life. We learn these skills over time — from the people around us. Kids, who begin life acting on impulse, need help from adults to develop healthy decision-making habits. Here's why it's important to help kids develop decision-making skills at an early age.
What are decision-making skills?
Decision-making is more than settling on a choice. It's a process of identifying what needs to be done and how it can be achieved along with reflection on motivations and consequences. When a person has good decision-making skills, they have reasonable expectations about what their actions (or non-action) will do, and they understand why certain actions are best for their wellbeing and the concerns of others.
Healthy decision-making allows a person to recognize when they're acting on impulse — and why feelings for quick action may arise. They'll also be able to evaluate for more positive results in the future.
Why decision-making skills are important for young children
Exposes them to consequences. Children need to understand that choices have consequences. They first learn this when they cry for food, but to grow into empathetic, responsible adults, they need to learn how their actions affect themselves and others — and why. The outcome of a decision may not be the one they hoped for, or what they wanted may not actually be what's best. Help your child connect consequences to wellbeing, and use mistakes as learning opportunities.
Teaches them to think ahead. Once kids understand consequences, they can begin to see how choices impact a larger picture — their future. They can also learn how decisions for instant gratification may not be considerate of what's really important in the long-run. Having a goal is motivating and gives purpose to smaller decisions. Keeping patient while waiting for an achievement can be challenging for kids, so make sure to help your child set a reasonable goal they can be proud of.
Have a life-long impact on communities as a whole. When people practice long-term planning for their lives, they give themselves more options and opportunities to plan for positive outcomes. As your child learns how their actions affect their future, you can teach them how decisions reach farther — to other people and their communities. Communities are built by the people who belong to them. As your child grows into someone who is self-aware and empathetic, they're more likely to make positive contributions to those around them.
Empowers them and builds confidence. When decisions have results that can actually be seen and felt, kids learn the real impact their independent thoughts have on their lives. The understanding that their thoughts matter is empowering. It's motivation to keep practicing healthy decision-making. Positive outcomes build confidence, and this is important as children figure out limits and boundaries within their personal control. With good decision-making skills, kids have the agency to make decisions they can learn and grow from.
Helping children develop decision-making skills at a young age takes time and patience, but with your guidance, children can begin healthy practices to last a lifetime. Read Wellspring's Blog for more tips on how to ensure your child is equipped to handle the challenges of growing up.