Too often and in true kiasu parent style, we tell our kids what to do in order to make our lives a little easier. However, by doing this, we may unknowingly be depriving them of key decision-making skills they need when they become adults. How can we allow our children to learn age-appropriate decision making, and what are their benefits if taught early?
How to teach your child age-appropriate decision making
According to Jim Taylor, Ph.D., from Psychology Today, there’s a certain way you should let very young children make decisions.
Clearly, you shouldn’t give your children full responsibility for their decisions. Instead, you should gradually let them make more complex decisions as they grow up.
A good place way to start would be not to give broad options, and instead teach age-appropriate decision making to young kids slowly.
For instance, you wouldn’t want to let your kids choose whatever they want in the supermarket. Your kids might get frustrated by all the options available and become indecisive, or the opposite: wanting everything.
Instead, provide between two to three things they can choose from, like “Sesame sticks, apples or yogurt?”. Then let them think through this age-appropriate decision-making problem before settling on one item.
Once your children begin to mature, you can diversify what they can choose from. Furthermore, you can raise the significance of their decisions, such as what events they get involved in or what time to sleep.
Then, once they’ve followed through with their decisions, guide them in realizing if their age-appropriate decision-making skills were right or wrong. If their decisions didn’t have a good outcome, your child should learn they hold responsibility for the outcomes of their choice.
By doing so, your children will begin to understand that they have made those decisions independently.
Giving your little tot some decisions helps in the long run
Even though we think making decisions for our little ones is best for them, deciding things for our kids can impact them in various ways.
For instance, it deprives children of self-confidence, nor does it teach them to face adulthood.
Even trivial choices matter in the long run. You can start by letting your child choose between eating an apple or banana, or choosing what they wear to school. The important thing is to let our kids choose simple things that boost their self-confidence while having little to no effect on their schedule.
These are six ways of incorporating little choices into your child’s routine every day.
Benefits of giving your little one decisions
1. Prevents tantrums
Most of the time, a child throws tantrums because they aren’t in control. Naturally, all humans long to feel in control. It’s just that adults don’t realize their babies do, too.
Babies don’t throw tantrums because you served breakfast in a different container than their usual bowl. Rather, the root reason of it all is the feeling of not having enough power.
So, letting your little one feel in control and powerful is key to preventing tantrums and keeping them under your control. Remember, you have more authority if your child feels powerful and in control.
2. Boosts their self-esteem
Settling on decisions is key to improving your little one’s self-confidence. When your child decides on something and all ends well, there are two main benefits. First, your child will feel overjoyed that their decisions paid off. Secondly, that satisfaction will instill self-confidence and go on to develop positive decision-making skills as they grow older.
3. Gives them a sense of self-worth
One of the main parts of parenting which most parents miss is instilling a sense of self-worth in their child. Usually, children are actually more creative than adults. Your little one’s ideas and contributions are as valuable as an adult’s.
The important part is ensuring that your little ones know that we as adults appreciate their input and are aware of how much value they contribute towards the family. Appreciating your child’s seemingly trivial choices is one simple way to boost their self-esteem and recognize their value.
4. Lets them learn responsibility
Life is made up of the decisions we make. It only makes sense to prepare our kids by helping them learn how to make decisions while they’re young.
Slowly incorporating small choices in a child’s daily routine helps them to play an active role in making decisions. Furthermore, your child will also understand to handle both their decisions and their results (whether good or bad).
5. Nurture and unlock their creative prowess
Parents, deciding everything for your kids won’t give them the chance to unleash their creativity while also nurturing their skills of abstract thinking.
Realistically, most adults usually have a fixed mindset and do not have the same creativity as their kids. However, it is our role to nurture their creative thinking instead of turning it off via authoritative parenting.
6. Lets them learn problem-solving skills
Everyone in life makes bad decisions, and your child is no different. Sometimes, their decisions might result in an unwanted outcome.
That isn’t entirely a bad thing, mums. Your little one will reflect on what went wrong in their decision, leading to better decisions in the future.
For instance, if your child puts on their favorite shoes and jumps in mud, ruining them, they will remember what happened and decide differently if the same option (put best shoes on and jump in mud) arises again.
Remember, mums, it’s our role to help our little ones grow and become understanding, determined and responsible adults. Providing opportunities for creativity, boosting self-confidence and having feeling in charge of their body while young will provide a great foundation into developing the previously mentioned life skills.
Even trivial choices can matter in the long run — why not let your child decide simple things on their own?