Recently, I have been to shopping with a friend. Her 15 years old daughter who is very sweet, disciplined and obedient also joined us. When I admired her beautiful attire, she smiled with “Thank you, my mother chose it for me.” I was so glad to know that even at the age of 15, she let her mother choose her attire! Isn’t it sweet? Otherwise people say “after 13, you can just see your kids, accompany them once in a while or maximum hug them whenever they are around (if they are around because chances are very rare).
Well, my happiness didn’t last longer when I asked her to choose between red and purple during shopping! She looked at her mother to take the decision and that’s what made me write this article.
Yes, we all want obedient kids who can listen to whatever we say, and if you have one like that, you are the luckiest parent on the planet. But don’t make them listen everything so they just stop thinking by themselves.
In above case, the girl was knowing that her mother is there to take each and every decision for her and so she was least bother to make one by herself.
Your kids might struggle if they need to make decisions by themselves and might make many mistakes but at the end, those will be their decisions and they will learn from it. If you make decisions for them, they might make less mistakes and they might not suffer at all but they won’t learn as well. No one can survive without making mistakes and learning from it so let your kids make their own decisions and mistakes.
There will be time, when your decision won’t matter and they have to decide by themselves. If you are the one taking all the decisions on behalf of them, they won’t be ready and will look for your inputs. Whole life you focused on helping them instead of preparing them for upcoming adventurous and uncertain life and now they are not ready because you never prepared them!
So, let’s start with giving little freedom to make decision at early age as early as 2 years. Yes, that’s right, even 2 years old can decide what they want to wear or what they want to eat! Of course, you need to give them reasonable and limited choices to avoid extra hassle and confusion but research says “Select from 3” works the best for 2 to 6 years old kids and that helps them to prepare themselves for future decision-making process.
Here I am providing you some guidelines on where your kids can make their own decisions at early age:
- Clothes selection: Give the choice of 3 and ask them to choose whatever they want to wear. This is very good practice to encourage your kids to make their own decisions.
- Snacks/meal choice: Choice from 3 doesn’t give just freedom to choose but give your kids opportunity to make healthy decisions as well.
- Play/ toy: I have seen parents guiding their kids to play with swing or slide in the garden. Right thing to do is let them explore and let them figure out what can be fun to play with.
- Friends selection: It’s not necessary for your kids to play with your friends’ kids, accept it and let them spend time with their own friends who really matches with their wavelength.
- Study materials: We, as parents are always ready to express our emotions with “wow! this is so fascinating.” But we don’t realize that indirectly we are suggesting them to follow our choices. So, keep your excitement with you and let them choose stationaries or library books by their own and give them freedom to show their excitements.
Some more guidelines for the kids above 6 years:
- Allow small decisions, let your kids decide whether they want to wear sweater or not for outside play. They might not take sweater to show their new outfit in early winter but that’s fine. They can always learn from their experiences and you will be surely there to rescue them. Right?
- For less than 2 hrs outdoor activity, let them select their clothes and shoes. They might end up wearing party shoes for cycling or may avoid water bottle but its good start to learn from these mistakes.
- Let them pack their bags for picnic, you can always add missing things into your bag if it is essential but let them learn by taking these small decisions.
- Let them pack their school bag, they may forget their water bottle or snack box but there is always a solution. They can drink water from school fountain or they can share snacks from their friends’ tiffin. Once in a while it is perfectly okay. Trust me they won’t starve to death for sure.
These small decisions:
- Will boost their confidence. They will know that there is always a solution to every problem and they can handle that. That will make them strong and brave.
- Will prepare them to face small challenges like lunch box issue or wrong shoes and that will make them flexible.
- Will strengthen your bonding because now they know that you are always there for them even if they make mistakes. And that makes them positive towards life.
They might make many mistakes or will repeat same mistakes again and again but if they won’t learn “not to make same mistakes again” then also they will definitely learn “how handle themselves in small crisis” and that’s big deal. It won’t be never that they won’t make mistakes but they will know one thing for sure that they are able to cope up with that and you will always be there for them.
So, if you think you are good in decision making, make a decision to allow your kids to make their own decisions.