Talking with Your Teen about Making the Right Decisions

As a parent we want our children to make good decisions. We want them to think carefully before acting, especially if the decision they make could have dire consequences. We want to teach them the process – that means talking with your teen about making the right decisions.

Part of our job as parents is to teach our children to think for themselves. We want them to be able to learn how to look at a situation from all sides and then decide what is best for them. We also want them to think about other people and how their decisions will affect others. Our goal is to give them the tools they need so they’ll be able to make good decisions when they’re out of our homes.

If you didn’t teach your child the process of making a decision when they were younger, it’s not too late. It’s better to teach them now before they leave home than their having to deal with unpleasant consequences as young adults. You may want to post these where your teen can see them regularly; a refrigerator door is a great place since teens are usually hungry a lot.

You may want to role play with them to teach them the process. Give them some possible situations they may actually face such as being pressured to take drugs, drinking, having sex, or stealing.

1. Recognize when a decision has to be made.

2. Think about the various choices that can be made. They may actually want to write the choices on paper if they’re just learning to make decisions.

3. Realize that not choosing actually IS making a choice. There will still be consequences and repercussions to not making that choice.

4. What are the possible consequences of each choice? Write down the decision and the possible consequences so it can be seen in black and white.

5. Think about the possible effect that choice will have on others. For example, if drinking and driving is a choice, there may be an accident that injures or kills someone. If having unprotected sex is the choice, what about the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy or catching a sexually transmitted disease?

6. Make the best decision possible.

If you’ve passed on your moral values, encourage your teen to stand firm in adhering to those values. Remind them often that you love them, and then trust that they’ll make the best choice. Of course, peer pressure can be difficult to face, but if they know you love them and are there for them, it may be easier to stand up for what they believe is right.

Be honest with them, share from your experiences when you were their age, and let them know that they can come to you to talk about anything, no matter the subject. It’s important to keep talking to your teen about making the right decisions, then trust that your conversations will help them stand strong.

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