One of the biggest surprises I discovered when I became a parent, was that my children had minds of their own. Somehow, I had always imagined that I would mold my kids into mini versions of my husband and myself. What a shock it was when my two year old had her very own ideas. Try as I might, I discovered quickly that my job was to raise her with strong values, but her personality was solely hers in spite of me.
With that in mind, it is very important to teach your children how to make decisions for themselves, and that can start when they are as young as two years old. Allowing them to choose their favorite color lollipop, or one shirt versus another, is an important start to building the foundation for decision making. It can often be easier to make decisions for your kids because you certainly know more than they do. But that’s the point…teaching them how to make choices. When they start with small things as toddlers, they will have the confidence to make more important and difficult decisions as they get older.
There will be times when your children may not make the best choice, but that is all part of the learning process. Certainly, the goal is to get them to the point where they are not only confident making choices, but they have the foundation to make smart and informed decisions. When they are in high school and are faced with drinking or smoking, they will be more assured to make the right choices based on the foundation you provided throughout their lives.
I once taught a student whose parents usually told her what to do, when, and how to do it. In class, she struggled to even pick her favorite color crayon. We had to constantly reassure her that there was no right or wrong choice, and she could pick whatever she wanted. She was always hesitant when faced with any decision because she hadn’t been taught how to do this on her own. Though she knew our classroom routine, she would constantly need reassurance that she was doing the right thing. We encouraged her parents to persuade her to make decisions on her own, and over time, she became more confident.
As parents, you will teach your children appropriate values and they will hopefully make their choices with that as their foundation. You must give them the confidence to make choices for themselves.