Are You Teaching Your Kids to Make the Best Choices When it Counts?
We all make choices, all the time. You’ve probably made a hundred small decisions just today. You chose which pants or shirt to wear, to have a cup of coffee at home or pick one up on the way, etc.
Much of our lives is routine. We’ve already made the small decisions. We’re on automatic pilot. But what about the big ones? How do we teach our kids to make the best choices when it counts?
Here’s a “handy” model for your kids when they are faced with a decision. Teach them to hold up a hand as if to say, “Stop,” or “Wait a minute.” This will give them time to think.
H = Hold it.
A = Add up the choices.
N = Narrow the choices down.
D = Decide, then do it.
You can walk them through a decision using the hand method.
Example: “Dad told you to be home in time for dinner. Your friend Jessie wants you to do one more level of the game you are playing. That will make you late. Do you stay or go?”
Hand up: Hold it.
Add up the choices: “I can disobey Dad and stay. I can obey Dad and go home.”
Narrow down the choices by thinking about their results: “If I disobey Dad, he’ll get mad. I’ll be grounded. That means I’ll miss Cary’s birthday party next Saturday. If I obey Dad, he’ll be happy and I’ll have more fun.”
Decide, then do it: “I’m going to obey Dad and go home.”
Your Kids “Handy Super Power”!
Using the hand may give a kid the second or two he or she needs as leverage against the momentum of peer pressure: a moment to think.
“Hold it. I’ve got to think about that. Know what? I’ll see you later” can be an escape mechanism. He or she can even wave the upraised hand in a friendly way and get the heck outta there.
Have your children imagine that superpower is flowing through that upheld hand. Actually, a superpower is! It is the power of choice–the power of free will–the power to choose. This is one of the greatest powers a human being has. Emphasize that they always have a choice. That is their special superpower.
Teaching your kids this exercise can also lead to discussions of the kinds of situations they might be facing when it comes to negative peer pressure. Those discussions alone can lead to better choices. A study reported in Preventive Medicine found that when kids are made aware that some things are frowned on by society, their parents, and admired peers and role models, kids make better choices when it comes to alcohol, marijuana, and cigarette use.