Decision making is an essential part of being successful, growing up and living. How do you teach your teens to make smart, safe and good decisions? I think the process of decision making is an important one. Here are a few tips on how to teach good decision-making whether it is an employee, friend or your child:
1) Narrow Down the Issue
Many of the hardest decisions are actually questioning a few different issues. The first way to make sure you are making a good decision is to understand what the question is. Talk to them about this in your own situations. For example, when deciding where to apply to schools you are dealing with multiple issues. Teens need to learn that decisions have many factors. Where to go to college depends on your personal taste, how hard it is to get in and money.
2) List All the Options
When looking at making decisions, we should get in the habit of brain purging all of the issues and options. Have a brainstorming session with no if’s, but’s or dream killers (reality busters).
3) List the Priorities
Once you make your big list of options, teach them how to make a list of priorities and then match the priorities with the massive brain purge.
4) Introduce the Dream Killer Space
Decisions must be realistic. This is when you teach how to be your own critic. It is important to be able to have a space for mental purges and then a space where they can get really realistic when looking at their options.
5) Practice How You Would Feel in ___
Many experts say that young people have a very hard projecting how they will feel at a later date. This takes practice. Teach them to play, “how will this decision feel in 5 days/ 2 weeks/ 6 months/ 1 year…”
6) Play Who
Who else will this decision effect? Everyone needs to understand how to relate their decision to others. Is there anyone else they should consider before they make their decision. If you are deciding to be a vegetarian for example, will that affect a spouse, parent or who you dine with?
7) Tell Someone
It is great to tell the person that the decision is affecting, but you also should run your decision by someone for two reasons. First, it is great to get a second opinion, second this helps you play your decision out loud and hear yourself say it. Sometimes people realize their ideas or decisions are bad when relating them to someone else before even hearing that person’s opinion.
8) Sleep On It
Always, always, always give it time if you have time. Sleep on it, give it a few days. Take some time NOT thinking about your decision before you make it.
9) Guts Are Real
Intuition is almost impossible to teach, but learning to trust your gut instinct is essential to good decision making. Remind the person you are teaching to think about what their gut reaction is when they think about their decision or answer options.
10) Break It Up
If you can split up big decisions into smaller pieces, it helps guarantee success. Having smaller decisions within a bigger one, helps you assess the direction you are heading and lets teens check themselves and the consequences of their decision as they go instead of making it all at once. An example of this would be instead of deciding to be vegetarian all at once, cut out red meat, then poultry, then fish etc.
Decision making is a process, practice, practice, practice. You might also want to check out this article on teaching problem solving.