Monday, December 15, 2008

Decision Making Process for Children


Younger children:

  1. Must recognize that a decision must be made (I would have the children say this out loud)
  2. Must understand that they must make the decision on their own
  3. Must have a deadline to meet in the making of this decision
  4. Must see that the results of the decision are important to them and the people they care about
When the actual decision-making process begins, the steps below should help. You might first talk you children through the following steps with a make-believe decision so that you're sure that the steps are understood.

There should be a record made of the following steps. Each child should:
  1. State the problem that requires a decision
  2. List the choices of action that can be taken (most situations have more than two options)
  3. Recognize what happens if a decision is not made (not making a choice is a choice)
  4. List values held that will help make the choice
  5. List the prejudices held that could unfairly influence the choices
  6. Recognize how the various choices effect the child and others (what will happen with this choice)
  7. Make the choice
  8. Examine the choice to make sure it is consistent with the values held
  9. Commit to the decision


  1. Sensible, JBS, but please clarify -- if you dare generalize -- at what age or age range you feel it's approrpriate that parents help kids learn to replace impulsive 'decisions' with structured ones.

    Adolescents surely need to understand that decisions have consequences and shouldn't be made casually. Teens that don't grasp this likely have overly permissive parents. But you're writing about "younger children."

    Do you see potential for more trauma than teaching if introduced before age . . . well, actually I'd rather hear your thoughts. Thanks.

  2. I believe that we do not provide children with enough opportunity to learn the process of decision making on their own. The decision making process is a trade learned in the field vs. a skill taught out of a text book. I find that children a far too over-scheduled at a very young age vs. my experience as a child creating our own games and fun with very little structure. I prefer the Huck Finn / Tom Sawyer approach to childhood. So long as children are not in mortal danger, I think they should be able to find their own path.