One of the most profound impacts we as parents can have with our children is in guiding them to be great decision-makers. Here are some simple yet influential ideas.

Let your child make decisions from an early age. Practice builds the “decision-making muscle.” Even when your child is young, you can begin to offer choices.

“Do you want to wear the red pants or the blue pants today?”

You can offer choices around food, time, activities and how to handle situations. You can ask your teen, “Do you prefer to complete your project and go out with your friends on Friday evening or to have your friends over for one hour today and then finish your project afterwards?” That is a choice with an incentive.

Allow your child to observe you making decisions. How do you process your options? What decisions have you made — about changing jobs, moving, buying a car, the food you eat — and how did you feel about the results? Were there subsequent decisions to be made?

Notice how you respond to perceived mistakes. If you are judging yourself about your perceived mistakes, you will most likely judge your child about theirs. If they notice you judging yourself, they may believe mistakes are to be avoided at all costs or hidden from others or that they are “bad” if they make one.

Making decisions then becomes scary rather than empowering. It becomes centered on avoiding mistakes rather than choosing what is in their best interest.

Let them know that with each decision there will be bumps in the road. That doesn’t mean it was a “bad” or “wrong” decision.

No matter your decision, there will be unexpected things to deal with. For example, if you buy a house and then discover there is a roof leak, it doesn’t mean you chose the wrong house or that you made a mistake in deciding to own a home rather than rent. It means you have a new decision to make about the roof.

Remove the urgency unless it is an emergency, such as swerving out of the way of an oncoming vehicle. Urgency can dampen curiosity, flexibility and the ability to see multiple options. If you notice a feeling of urgency in your body, take time to breathe.

Guide them to tune into their bodies. Are they feeling that sense of urgency? Pause and breathe. When considering each option, does their body expand or contract? Does one option feel light and hopeful and the other feel heavy and restricting? There are important messages there.

Making decisions will teach your child to trust their own guidance, goodness and choices. There is nothing better.

Maggie Macaulay is the owner of Whole Hearted Parenting, offering coaching, courses, and workshops. Contact her at 954-483-8021 or Visit her website at

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