Navigating life successfully requires daily choices and decisions, both large and small. Should children in the family have a say in these decisions? At what point are children even capable of making an informed decision? I believe that children need to voice their opinions as this is a great self esteem activity.
All members of a family, down to the very youngest, should feel welcome to voice their opinion and give input on decisions which will impact them. Having a “say” does not necessarily translate into having a “vote.” Some decisions are in the adult realm and while children need to be made aware if a change is on the horizon, they won’t always be involved in the actual decision. Asking children shows that they are valued and this is a self esteem activity.
If a job transfer dictates a move to another location the children will have no choice but to go along with the decision. They can, however, be included in other decisions involved in the move, such as, choosing one new house over another, or choosing which bedroom they will have in the new house.
Compatible families always ensure each member feels included, valued and secure by respecting their wishes and opinions whenever feasible.
Some areas of daily living are conducive to allowing the child to be the actual decision maker, with the guidance of the experienced parent. Decisions involving the child’s person or space are good opportunities for the child to exercise his decision-making skills. Leaving what he will wear and how his room is decorated to the discretion of the child gives him a sense of being treated fairly and being in control of his life.
When the child exercises poor judgment the parent may step in with a mentoring attitude, rather than exercising the “because I said so” ultimate control and authority stance.
A child could make decisions about his own friends and activities, as long as they are within the boundaries of the family morals and values code.
Sometimes the child will make mistakes. This is how he learns to make good decisions. Experience is often the best teacher. A child who has been overprotected and had all his choices and decisions made for him throughout his formative years will have a difficult time adjusting to making necessary decisions as an adult.
As with all skills we teach out children, decision making must be doled out in small increments and geared to the age and ability of the child. Even a toddler can choose what kind of pizza to order, and will feel very valued and important watching his family enjoy his “decision.”
Choices and decisions go hand in hand and children will become adept at making good choices and sound decisions if they are allowed to have a “voice” in the family.
Fairness is an important component to family congeniality. Children are quite capable of deferring to the decisions of others if their own opinions are treated with respect. They are much more concerned with being treated fairly than just having their own way.
Giving children an opportunity to have their “say” regarding family decisions will not only increase their self esteem and feeling of value within the family, but will also foster an optimistic attitude about the world in which they live. Practise my suggestions as they are a way to develop children and offer self esteem activities that promote the opportunity for a cohesive family life.