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Helping Your Kids Make Good Decisions

The ability to make good decisions is a skill that all children need to learn. As our children age, we can help them acquire this skill by teaching them how to objectively view the circumstances surrounding a decision. This simple model will help both you and your kids make sound, well-infomed, God centered decisions.

Most kids are poor decision-makers. I am sure this comes as no surprise. They tend to focus on self-gratification and their own immediate perceived needs. Because of this, we tend to strip a lot of decision-making powers from them. When they are very young, this is generally good practice – they are kids after all. We can give them a taste of decision-making by letting them choose between or among some pre-approved options.

But as our kids age, we need to give them a little more freedom with making, and experiencing the consequences of, their own decisions. We want them to learn important lessons about decisions when they are small and the stakes are not as high. A child who decides to eat too much candy at a sleep over and gets sick will have learned a valuable lesson about over indulgence that he can take with him into the teen years.

Teaching kids how to make decisions should be high on our parenting priority list, particularly for parents of preteens.

Recently I attended a conference by a local therapist. One of the little nuggets that I took away was a helpful model for decision-making.This model is very simple – but sometimes simple is exactly what we need when we are in the throes of an important decision.

Four Square Decision Making Printable - help kids make good decisions

For a FREE decision-making printable, click here!

Whenever your child is faced with a decision, you can pull out this handy tool and take a look at the situation objectively by answering the following four questions:

  1. How will this affect me now?
  2. How will this affect me in the long run?
  3. How will this affect others now?
  4. How will this affect others in the long run?

Most kids camp out in the “me-now” square. (In fact, this is probably true for many adults too.) If we can help our children learn to think outside that box, they will be in a much better position to make sound decisions.

As Christian parents, we need to add an additional box (or as on the printable, an all-encompassing umbrella) that answers the questions:

What does God have to say about this situation? and

What do I know of God’s truths that will help me in this decision?

Let’s invite God into the conversation. Let’s teach our children how to consult Him in prayer and use His word to inform the decisions that they make.

For when we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness . . . all these things will be provided for you” (Matthew 6:33).

[If you are looking for some information to help you address the topic of how God answers prayer with your kids, click here for a great article.]


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.

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