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KC Parent: Helping Kids Learn to Make Good Decisions

Helping Kids Learn to Make Good Decisions

By Christa Melnyk Hines

Ever looked at your child in bewilderment and asked, “What were you thinking?!” Then you know that kids, especially teens, can make some profoundly poor decisions. Luckily, we can help them learn smart decision-making skills and manage mistakes—without helicoptering their every move.

Give choices from an early age. Prime the decision-making pump beginning in toddlerhood. Offer your child simple choices that you can live with: Would you like to wear the red shirt or the yellow shirt? Would you like to take a bath before or after dinner?

Offer age-appropriate decisions. You know best what decisions your child is ready for based on past history, development and personality. But in general, experts say that teens are ready to choose their own friends, their after-school activities, clothing and hairstyles, and the type of summer job they’d like to get.

“Those are totally appropriate decisions for teens to make that don’t have an impact on their safety or potential for significant long-term consequences,” says pediatric psychologist Christina Low Kapalu, Ph.D., Department of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences at Children’s Mercy. “When decisions do involve their safety or potential for significant long-term consequences, that’s when we want to involve parents’ input.”

Low Kapalu also recommends involving teens in their health care decision-making. They should be part of the conversation with their health care providers, like participating with you in scheduling their appointments and asking questions about treatment options and side effects.


Read the full story via KC Parent

Learn more about Developmental and Behavioral Health at Children's Mercy