Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Raising Good Decision Makers

At last weekend's Parent Workshop, we discussed rewards/punishments and allowing our children to experience natural consequences of their decisions.  Good decision making is acquired from making poor decisions and figuring it out, on our own, how to turn it around.  Think about the lessons you have learned in your life-did they come from someone telling you?  Did they come from reading it?  Probably not~lessons you have learned probably came from experiences you had and figuring out when something went wrong or a way you didn't want it to.  Helping children learn how to make good decisions is done by allowing them to make a decision and allowing that decision to play out.  By allowing our children to get clear and accurate information-which may be learned the hard way that the stove is hot-we start them on the path to learning to decide independently how they will act. 

Keeping our children from experiencing natural consequences of their actions/decisions can be detrimental to future growth. Some would argue that young children are having a harder a time potty training because of Pull-Ups.  Pull-Ups on children who are learning to use the bathroom independently can actually cause a set back because the Pull-Ups keep children from experiencing when they have gone to the bathroom in their pants.  Pull-Ups can be convenient, but they can also keep children from experiencing what they need to learn about their body and using the restroom.  Sippy cups can pose a similar issue.  Children need to practice drinking from a regular cup so they learn not to spill.  Yes, there will be spills while they are learning, but practicing drinking from a cup will make them more successful.  Start at a young age (right around 1), pour a very small amount of water in a cup and allow your child to practice drinking.  You will be amazed how successful they can be!  Drinking from a sippy cup doesn't help children learn how to drink from a regular cup.  Again, they are convenient and almost always guaranteed not to be messy, but what is your child learning drinking from a sippy cup? A diet of finger foods can keep children from learning how to use utensils.  It's a good idea to think about the skills we want our children to learn rather than what is convenient in the moment.

Allowing our children the freedom to make age appropriate decisions can be painful.  Watching them live out what they have decided can be challenging.  However, resist the temptation to rescue your children from decisions they have made.  In the end, it will be fruitful and your child will be learning so much about life and themselves.  Here is a recent Facebook post from a Mom who I respect greatly.  You can hear the pain of allowing her son to live out his decision, but you can also hear her love and support of her son as he is walking out a decision he made:

I just let my new middle schooler walk out the door with no breakfast, no lunch and his hair not brushed because he was so frazzled trying to pull all his homework together for class today. I asked yesterday for him to get everything together and he said he would later. It broke my heart to watch. I gave him a big hug, told him I loved him. We both are growing up a bit today.

Be brave and allow your children to make some decisions in their lives.  They are genius's!  They will figure it out, even if it's learning things a difficult way.  And, they will greatly appreciate your belief in them!