The frontal lobe, which controls decision-making and foresight, is not fully developed until the age of 25. Therefore, children cannot predict the consequences of their actions. As parents, we must guide our children in making good decisions. Here’s how:
Allow your child to make mistakes sometimes
This may seem counterproductive, but when you allow your child to make mistakes, they witness cause-and-effect in real time. When children make mistakes, they develop an understanding that every action has consequences. Mistakes are simply learning opportunities. When your child sees the consequences of a poor decision, they know how to better approach similar situations in the future.
Help your child weigh the pros and cons of their decisions
Children often act impulsively, giving very little thought to their decisions. When your child expresses that they would like to do something, encourage them to weigh the pros and cons of that decision. Here are a few questions you may consider asking your child:
What benefits do you see from making that decision?
What risks are you taking in order to get what you want? What could go wrong?
Is there another way you could approach that task that would yield better results?
Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
Offer alternatives with an explanation
Depending on the age and maturity of your child, they may require a little more guidance. If they still don’t quite understand the potential for negative outcomes using the pros/cons exercise, explain to your child how/why these negative outcomes could arise. Offer your child alternatives to their desired action and explain how/why these alternatives may better serve them.
Offer praise and insight
Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways to encourage good behavior. When your child makes a good decision, praise them for their efforts — this will encourage your child to be more thoughtful when making decisions and strive for positive outcomes. When your child makes a mistake, remind them that it’s okay to make mistakes and support them in learning how to correct these mistakes. Offer insight on how they could achieve better results next time.
Need more tips? Contact The Kangaroo Forest today!