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Teaching Children to Make Good Choices

As adults, we manage making the right choices, often because our parents and elders have stepped in to help us make the right one. What then is our role as parents? How do we teach our children, of a generation that is obsessed with technology and blasted with information, to discern the right from wrong? Here's how.
AptParenting Staff
"Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice."
Ayn Rand

One question often comes to our mind, as worded in the famous soliloquy from Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' To be or not to be: that is the question and often enough, we are baffled by the choice we make. We seldom give a thought, on what children go through especially when we constantly daunt them for the choices they make. But hey, they are kids and need a guiding hand while taking decisions that will affect their life. Even as a grownup, I adhere to my mom's words of wisdom originally borrowed from Dr. Shad Helmstetter - "No one else can ever make your choices for you. Your choices are yours alone. They are as much a part of you as every breath you will take, every moment of your life." As a parent, teaching your child how to make a wise decision, is an advice, that goes without saying. Besides, the future of your child lies partly in your hands, as much as it lies in his/hers.
Teaching Kids to Make Good Choices
Are you a parent who gives in to your child's demands, even though your kid is only a year old? Stop before you go any further and regret your pampering later in life, when your child becomes spoiled for choice.
Start Early: Don't Let Them be Spoiled for Choice
Kids apparently find a way to get things done according to their wish and being a parent, you should be wary of their demands. Begin teaching your kids to make choices early in life, it will help save you from pesky teenagers in the future. Making decisions should be taught when the child learns how to walk; in short, as soon as the child learns to stand on his/her own feet and talk. Your child will respect you more if, as a parent, you teach him/her to differentiate the right from the wrong. Remember, your child is an individual and sooner they realize their responsibilities, the better.
Simple Things Matter
Your child will grow up to be a mature individual, capable to make the right choices, only if you as a parent, will allow them to discern the right from the wrong when they are small. Teach your child the importance of making decisions by setting the right example. Explain the difference between a good choice and a bad one and support it with your actions. Nothing beats a reward; not necessarily material things but a simple pat on the back can do the trick, especially when they follow your instructions well. Think from the child's perspective, you wouldn't want someone constantly bickering over you about your choices, would you?
Learning from Mistakes
Children will be children and are bound to make mistakes; chances of your child learning to make the right choice through their faults is high, as long as you take time to make them realize that their actions are wrong. Be patient and compassionate about their choices, they might come to you asking for help in deciding, it's invariably your duty to guide them well. Ask your child questions instead of simply burdening them with suggestions. Besides, if giving them a choice allows them to learn and gain a sense of control, then what's the harm?
Responsibility Comes from Doing
Imagine if your parents never permitted you to enjoy the freedom of choice, and restricted your every move, would you have turned out to be a responsible citizen? If the choices that you made in your childhood have molded you to be just who you are, then why hinder your child's ability to take up responsibility. Give your child an option to choose from, make it a point to consider his/her views as well. Taking up responsibilities like helping out in household chores, or caring for pets will enable your child to develop self-worth and a sense of contribution.
Be Compassionate
Your child will develop his/her ability to make good choices if you as a parent genuinely support and encourage your child. Positive encouragement received from an elder, puts the child in the right stead to make a correct decision. Do not judge and doubt your child on one wrong choice, for as most grandparents say, listen with an empathetic ear and judge with a compassionate heart. It is advisable that you encourage positive friendship and choices, and make them aware about negative choices and their impacts.
Learning by Imitating
Have you ever observed your child closely? If you have, then I'm sure you might have noticed your child's inclination to imitate every action performed around him/her. Your child learns more from imitating than from any other source. Be prudent in your actions, your child is observing every move you make and every decision you take. Your child will learn from you, and your choices will definitely affect his/her future choices; besides making good choices will only help develop your child's character. Think twice before you ask your kid to lie on the phone to your boss, he/she might do the same one fine day and no guesses who will be at the receiving end!
Love Unconditionally
Finally, do not forget to love and trust your child and his/her decision-making powers. If you put a lifetime in trusting your child, in making the right decisions, the possibility of him/her making a right one is a surety. Love your child unconditionally, there is no greater way to teach your child to make good decisions than to say you love and trust his/her decisions. For obvious reasons, any choice that you offer your child has to be one that you genuinely support. Children can be rash and short-sighted in their decisions but with a bit of precaution and help from your side, they can surely develop their decision-making prowess. Besides, they need a guiding hand and an opportunity to learn, even if it is from their own faults and shortcomings.
"When I was just a little girl I asked my mother, what will I be... Will I be pretty, will I be rich; here's what she said to me... Que sera sera, whatever will be will be, the future's not our to see que sera sera..What will be will be". It's good to remember that, no matter what you do, your child's decision will someday work for him/her, for you and I do not rule the life of the other, especially your child's life.