Making decisions is a skill that teens will need to learn to do well because the decisions they are making in this life stage can be life-altering. Getting a job, start smoking, use drugs, go to college, start dating or have sex, are decisions that teenagers make daily.
Additionally, teens are confused about whether or not they should study for an upcoming test, which will lead to good grades, which leads to college choices are all aspects of the need for good decision making skills
Here is how you can help your teen learn to make good decisions in five direct steps.
1: Prepare yourself.
Our first step is all about you, the parent. Are you ready to let your teen take over this decision that you have been making for him? Take some time to think it through. While it won’t be all at once, there will be a time when it hits you that you aren’t always needed for important decisions, or that you may not agree with the decision your teen made yet the situation worked out fine without you. You need to prepare yourself for it. When these thoughts and feelings hit, it is important to remember that you are doing a good job and your teenager is lucky to have you in his life.
2: Help your teen identify a conflict that needs his/her attention.
Verbally spell out the conflict and end with a question: “What do you think you could do?” or “What are your options?” Let them decide.
3: Encourage your teen to think through each option.
Spelling out the pros and cons will help him see the bigger picture of each option, thereby helping them choose appropriately. Younger teens often have trouble seeing the big picture, so they might need more help than a 17-year-old. But all teens can use their parents as sounding boards. Be available to listen and help even after your teen has developed good decision-making skills.
4: Allow your teen to make the decision.
Hold your tongue just before you’re ready to say, “I think you should...” If your teen is used to you making the decisions and isn’t getting around to finalizing his thoughts ask if you could help. Simply solve issues by verbally giving permission.
5: Reconnect and evaluate the decision with your teen.
While you shouldn’t act like this is a business meeting, do talk to your teen about what happened, even if the outcome wasn’t what was hoped for. Discuss what he might do differently the next time and do not be judgmental. Give your teen positive feedback and tell them that you are proud that they took on this challenging decision.
Going through these five steps will help teenagers work through important decisions in life. This will build their confidence and maturity.