My oldest daughter is usually pretty decisive. She knows what she wants, moves past her fears, and goes after her dreams. But there have been times when she has come to a crossroads where she couldn’t decide which way to go. A few months ago, she was debating whether to run for president of the theater board at school. If she did, she would miss out on other parts of the theater experience, but if she didn’t, she would miss an opportunity to potentially exercise her leadership skills. She went back and forth weighing her options and we had long conversations about the pros and cons of each choice. In the end, she decided to go for it.
As her mom, I knew the outcome had so much weight for her. Honestly, it’s just hard to watch your kids struggle with indecision, especially when a lot is riding on the choices they need to make. So it’s on us as parents to know how to help a child make a decision. By asking 6 simple questions, kids will find clarity and gain confidence in their decision-making abilities—a skill that they’ll need for many years to come.
1. What would you do if you had no fear?
Fear is a strong emotion. While it helps us stay away from danger and trust God, it can also stop us from experiencing life to the fullest. Fear can hold you back from change, from growth, and even from having fun. If you take fear out of the equation, what would you do? By answering this question, your child can uncover what he or she really wants to do.
Fear can hold you back from change, from growth, and even from having fun. If you take fear out of the equation, what would you do?
2. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
My daughter ran for president, and unfortunately, she didn’t get it. After lots of tears, she remembered that we had already discussed what she would do if this happened. She would take on other leadership opportunities that allow for growth in new areas. By asking ahead of time what’s the worst-case scenario, we are helping our kids to be better prepared for the outcome of their decisions. And when the time comes that the result of their decision didn’t come out as they expected, they already will have anticipated the next course of action.
3. What’s the best thing that could happen?
Yes, looking at the worst-case scenario helps a child work through the fear of what could go wrong, but considering what the best scenario might be can help them envision how much they really want this and what they would do if their expected outcome becomes a reality; it’s dreaming and acting on that dream.
4. How would each of your options impact the people around you?
Rarely do decisions we make affect only ourselves. Identifying who would be impacted by the choices we make (and how they’d be impacted) teaches our kids to be considerate of others. If you change sports, how will this impact the team you’re leaving behind? If you decide to take a certain class, how does this affect your family life and schedule? Your decisions always impact others!
5. What else do you need to know that would help you make this decision?
Exploring and being informed about all aspects of the different options is a great way to help a child make a decision. If your son decides to join the baseball team but didn’t realize the team practices every day starting at 6 a.m., then he will be in for a great shock and so will you! Making sure you have all the information ahead of time ensures that you know the consequences of the decision you’re making.
6. What might your life look like in five years if you choose this?
Every decision we make changes the course of our lives. If your child does take on baseball and wakes up every day at 5 to be at practice at 6, in five years, he will have learned discipline, among other traits. My daughter not making it as president has taught her resilience and acceptance. It has taught her that we may not always get what we want, but we can learn and grow from every experience. It is helping to shape the person she will be in five years.
Do you have a question to add to our list? What’s your best tip for how to help a child make a decision?