Does your child need help to make better choices? We’ve been there! Read our guide on why your child makes poor choices and how you can help them make better choices.
Do you recall the sheer amount of choices you faced when you were a kid? From the way you treated your peers to avoiding irresistible temptations (like sneaking an extra cookie to bed), you had many choices to make, most with inevitable consequences.
No matter what age, everyone needs to make critical decisions. For most kids, making a good choice is easier said than done.
When you’re a kid, making good choices can be challenging. Decision-making is a learned skill! Every time your child has choices to make, their brain floods with “what ifs.”
“Why does my kid make poor choices?”
From toddlerhood throughout the early adult years, kids will learn “cause and effect” based on their choices. We can better understand our children by remembering some facts.
Kids tend to make bad choices because they:
- Impulses guide them
- Seek immediate gratification
- Feel peer pressure and bad examples
- Lack experience
- Can’t predict the consequences
If you want to help your child navigate their decision-making skills, read more. Here’s why our kids make poor choices and how we can help them.
No matter their age, all children will act impulsively. Impulsiveness is normal behavior that is often misunderstood. These behaviors are seen as “bad” or “naughty” by both new and experienced parents.
Before you reprimand your child for making a poor choice, remember that impulsive behavior, while concerning, is expected at times throughout childhood. Parents can help navigate their child’s impulses towards options with more productive outcomes.
Modern technology makes it easy to fall into the trap of immediate or “instant” gratification. From the ease of choosing a show on Netflix to buying online credits for their favorite video game, the ease of access to the internet has likely made an impact on kid’s decision-making skills.
While the convenience of accessibility is appealing to most adults, younger kids are especially prone to these temptations. When kids seek instant gratification, it can sway their ability to make better decisions. Teaching our kids to reap the rewards of patience can provide them a solid foundation of better decision-making skills.
No matter what stage in life, children are influenced by their peers. Good decision-making can become challenging as your child grows and develops friendships (and even rivals). Sometimes, even well-meaning adults can sway a child’s choices solely due to their role as an adult figure.
Your child will witness the “bad examples” throughout their lives. Sometimes, they’ll immediately recognize that they shouldn’t follow those bad examples. Other times, they’ll not know the difference between a good choice and a bad one due to lack of experience, explained below.
Lack of Experience
Remember, our kids are kids for a reason – they’ve only been on this planet for a short while! Young kids, even ones entering their young adulthood stages, are still learning and experiencing the world.
While parents, educators, and other adult figures can help guide them, a child’s choices are ultimately their own. It’s up to us (the more experienced ones) to be present for our children when learning from life’s challenges. Understandably, kids loathe hearing the words, “When I was your age.” Caring parents will feel the obligation to share their past experiences with their kids to help them predict the consequences of their choices.
Predicting the Consequences
Lack of experience goes hand-in-hand with the inability to predict the consequences of decision-making. Without life experience, kids will face challenges in understanding the potential outcomes of their choices.
“How can I help my child make better choices?”
Parents can have a significant impact on the choices their kids make. When it comes to developing their kids’ healthy decision-making habits, parents play an essential part. Our kids watch our every move, as well as the behaviors of those around them.
Parents teach their children how to make life decisions. Therefore, they should help them based on their age. For example, a 3-year-old can be given two choices when buying a toy. However, a 13-year-old can be taught to recognize that sleeping through the afternoons could potentially begin poor sleeping habits.
There are three things parents can do for their kids to help them make better decisions:
Be Present and Pay Attention
To get an inside look at what sways your child, it’s vital to remain present in your child’s everyday life. If your child is in daycare or school, regularly connect with their teachers. A child’s behavior can significantly vary between home and school. Be prepared to accept constructive feedback from your child’s educators, as they only want what’s best for your child both at school and home. It also helps you learn about decision-making for different age levels.
Pause and Listen
A huge part of communicating to resolve an issue is to listen. When your child needs your help making decisions, pause and listen to them without judgment. Try to listen at ear and eye-level; pause what you’re doing and give your child your undivided attention. Listening to them with compassion, understanding, and readiness to help will only benefit you and your child’s relationship.
Redirect and Correct
After listening to your child, you can begin to weigh your options together. Redirecting their behavior to more positive outcomes will help your child see the benefits of better decision-making skills. When your child makes mistakes or slips up, gently remind them of what you talked about. Gentle guidance is best to instill a trusting relationship with your children. It will help them see you as an ally and not an enemy.
Learn and Keep an Open Mind
Keeping an open mind is essential when raising your kids. There isn’t a universal parenting method that works for all children. However, our children are our greatest teachers, as no parent is perfect. The more open we keep our minds, the more we will learn about our children’s personalities.
I hope this essential guide will help you teach your children to make better decisions and avoid making some poor choices. Thanks for reading!