Responsible decision-making happens at home, at school, and at hobbies, so it’s valuable for kids to start practicing early. Kids need a safe and trusting environment in order for social, emotional, and leadership skills to grow and it starts with adults modeling these behaviors! Modeling responsible decision-making might mean explaining why you make the decisions you do (“I put away my laundry before I watch TV so I can relax knowing my chores are done”) or talking through a decision-making process (“Should I buy a new bike or save money for our vacation. Here’s my pro/con list–let’s look at it together.”) Sometimes we make so many decisions throughout a day that the process seems to pass us by, but remember that kids are just learning these skills and really benefit from taking it one step at a time.
Why Kids Need Responsible Decision-Making Skills
Kids are constantly learning how to make responsible decisions. They need the skills to do this effectively, and they can learn these skills in school, at home, or both places! In order for your kids to be prepared for life and citizenship in today’s world, it is important that you help them develop their decision-making abilities. The following four skills will help them become better able to make good choices throughout life: curiosity, open-mindedness, cause/effect, and critical thinking.
The Importance of Curiosity in Responsible Decision-Making
Curiosity is the desire to know and explore. Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” In other words, the more interested we are in knowing about our world, the more we learn. For children, curiosity is a skill that provides an important foundation for learning about themselves and the world around them. Kids need this in order for them not only be able to make good decisions, but also enjoy life! When kids are curious about a subject and want more information on it they’ll stop at nothing until their curiosity has been satisfied – that’s why we see so many children reading books or asking questions before doing anything else.
Curiosity can be encouraged by:
- providing opportunities for kids to explore and investigate the world on their own
- asking questions that require discussion such as “Why do you think this is true?”
- using books with text-dependent illustrations (i.e., pictures tell what happens next),
- discussing new words or ideas in order increase understanding of unfamiliar concepts
- presenting puzzles like putting together jigsaw pieces so children learn how different parts fit into one big picture
These are all activities which encourage curiosity because they help lead us towards more knowledge about ourselves and others around us . It’s also important not stop questioning! Let your child ask any question at any time — even if it seems silly to you! –as an opportunity to give them space to practice being curious.
Responsible decision-making also requires kids to become more open-minded, which will help them make better decisions by allowing for a variety of perspectives in their decision process. This skill also teaches children how to prepare themselves before making any big choices or taking on major responsibilities so that they can be fully informed about what’s going into it from all angles. Open mindedness means being able mindfully listen while understanding points made across different viewpoints without getting defensive as well developing empathy. Empathy is an important skill because we are not always dealing with just our perspective but thinking outside ourselves when considering other people.
Kids can practice open-mindedness by listening to others without judgment or a negative response. They also can take responsibility for their own actions, which is an important skill because this will help them make better decisions by allowing themselves the time and space needed in order evaluate other possible solutions before making any major choices about what they are going to do.
Thinking Through Cause and Effect
Actions have consequences, and understanding how one impacts the other can help kids make responsible decisions. For example, playing video games at night instead of going to bed right away at bedtime might mean being tired and not being able to focus on school during the day. In this example, responsible decision-making and self-management are closely tied.
When kids are able to identify the immediate and long-term consequences of their decisions, they’ll be more likely to make wise choices. (“I accidentally broke mom’s favorite mug. I should tell her and be honest otherwise I’ll be in more trouble for lying!”) This simple thought process can help them resolve what decision would have been better or worse depending on how often that particular choice is made over time–which also helps develop good habits.
Critical Thinking Means Looking for Solutions
The term “critical thinking” might sound scary, but it’s really just a process of looking at multiple sources of information to make the best decision about what to do next. For example, a child who watches a YouTube video about a scary monster might think it’s real, but then asks a teacher who reassures them that it’s made up. The child then needs to take two conflicting perspectives and decide who to trust: a YouTube star or their teacher. Good critical thinking skills will help them make a decision.
Critical thinking skills are important because they help children learn how to make decisions about how to reach their goals. They also teach kids that if a decision doesn’t seem like the best one, there may be another option out of many possible choices that are a better fit for achieving personal goals or social needs. Critical thinking for kids also helps improve a child’s communication skills by learning to ask questions to validate information. “How do you know?” is a great starter question to dig deeper.
How HeyKiddo™ Can Help
Kids need parents, teachers and other caring adults to help them learn how they can make wise decisions. HeyKiddo™ Talk and HeyKiddo™ Huddle are designed to give parents and teachers everything they need, when they need it, to build lifelong social, emotional and leadership skills at home or in the classroom. Download our Stress Management Toolkit today to get started and learn how you can help build these important skills at home or at school!