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Tips for Parents to Support Their Teens' Smart Decision Making

By Ms. Janice Nass, LCSW

We all hope that our children grow into becoming smart decision-makers. Smart decision- makers take the time to analyze problems, think about the consequences of their decisions, and look back and evaluate the decision-making process. This does not mean that every decision they make turns out perfectly. It means that they think before they act and ask themselves whether their decisions leads them in the direction to, not away from, their goals. At the teen stage of your child’s development it is important for parents to shift from a control stance to a guidance stance when it comes to their child’s decision-making. Teens do not always make the safest and healthiest decisions, but parents can provide the guidance necessary to help their teen make the best decision possible. Here is how a parent can do this:

1) Let your teen describe the problem in their own words. Remember, not everyone sees things the same way. What may be inconsequential to you may be very serious to your teen;

2) Listen to your teen and control your urge to offer advice. Much of the time, parents offer advice because we want to protect our children and not let them make the same mistakes they did. What our children need however, is our support and guidance and not for us to solve their problems for them.

3) Talk it out with your teen by asking them what they plan on doing to resolve the problem; what the consequences (good and bad) might be with different decisions they may be considering; and whether the decision they want to make will help them get to their goal(s); and lastly

4) ask your teen later how things worked out. Give positive feedback to your teen if their decision worked out well. If their decision did not work out as planned, allow your teen to learn from their mistakes without lecturing and show faith in their ability to make a better decision next time.

 

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