How to Help Kids Make Independent Decisions?
With school coming right around the corner and life looking a lot different than any of us anticipated this time last year, there is value in giving our kids freedom to make choices. Colby points us to wisdom in scripture and practical steps for helping our children grow in independent decision making. This article was published recently and is worth the repetition for us!
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
What is the value of giving children freedom to make choices? And as parents, how do you offer grace when a child’s decisions yield negative results? Children do not run the world for a reason, but enabling children to make decisions at an early age will provide them with tools to pursue wisdom when faced with decisions outside of our control.
Hopefully these steps will develop healthy and God honoring habits practiced by our children.
- Choose areas in which you will encourage your children to make decisions. – A parent is given the difficult task of discerning when to protect a child and when to prepare them. It is often hard to differentiate the two, which suggests there is value in deciding specific areas to make a concerted effort to prepare. These opportunities will differ from family to family and based on the age of the child. There is also great value in asking for your child’s input when making decisions. Even if the decision made is in opposition to their opinion, it gives parents an opportunity to listen, encourage, and discuss the reasoning and judgement used to come to a conclusion. Examples of areas to give freedom in decision making: Allowance spending, gift giving, time management, and ordering at restaurants.
- Explain the concept of wisdom in decision making. – Children typically view their parents as adults who have life all figured out. Although it is critical to be an example of glorifying God for your children, it would be a shame for them to live under the illusion that their parents are perfect. One of the strongest and influential characteristics a leader can possess is humility. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 Don’t be afraid to share stories of times you made a poor decision and compare them to times you made good decisions. Describe how wisdom plays a major role in quality decisions and use scripture to support that belief. Choosing a verse or passage highlighting the principle of wisdom for your family is one of the greatest tools that can be used with repetition.
- Ask questions in pursuit of grace. – Although it is tempting to quickly point out the right choice, one way to correct and teach is to ask questions. Your children are going to make poor decisions, but what an incredible opportunity to pose questions that will cause your children to think through the process of decision making. The majority of us learn best when the answer isn’t given but discovered. Ask about their motivations and reasoning. Ask about the consequences resulting from that decision. Ask what they would do differently next time so they can prepare for a similar situation in the future. And in conclusion, pray and ask God for wisdom as a family.
Decision making is a skill we use our entire lives. Giving your children the tools and opportunities to make God honoring and wise decisions is a priceless gift that will bless them in every season of life.
How are you doing keeping up with school work at home these days? Do you appreciate the structure your parents are providing? Would you like more freedom to complete it on your own terms? Consider respectfully approaching your parents with a couple ways you would like your school work schedule to change. Ask them if they would be open to talking through the pros and cons of these possible changes. Then be willing to own the blessings and/or consequences of your decisions!