Thursday, August 31, 2017

New School Year- New Friends and Teaching Children to Make Good Decisions

Submitted by Pastor Van
To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding, to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion, a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, Proverbs 1:2-5

The most important tools parents and caregivers need to give children to equip them to survive and succeed in a dangerous world is how to make good decisions.  Knowledge of right and wrong is, of course vitally important as well.  However, young people with strong values and an inability to apply those values remain vulnerable to the world's persuasions.
While knowing what is right and wrong is fundamental to any value system, the ability to live out our value system is not so easy.  Temptations, emotions, drives, cultural influences, distorted priorities and all sorts of other pressures can regularly conflict with our values creating serious tension.  Public schools are microcosms of our society exposing our children to a wide spectrum of values each day.  Such an environment demands that children who are going be safe know how to turn their values into convictions and be able to logically defend their position.  Your child/grandchild may know what is right or wrong but not know why right is right and wrong is wrong.  If so they are vulnerable.
There are many formulas and outlines for teaching children to make decisions.  Any one of them may be chosen so long as they implement the basic principles involved in equipping a child to think through their decisions and respond rather than react to life choices. 
Decision making is a process of asking and answering questions
The most important thing you can do to help your child or grandchild make their own decisions is keep asking them questions to develop critical thinking skills.  Explaining and lecturing have limited impact in developing good skills. 
Asking questions provides awareness of the level of maturity in a child and what their primary values are.  It also reveals to them what they have not considered or need to consider.  When children ask to do something or go somewhere, the first response may need to be, "What do you think about this?"  Also, "Why do you think I would say 'yes' or 'no'?"  Becoming a part of the decision making process and not just leaving it to the parent is a great learning experience. 
There are lots of techniques you can teach them to use, although they won't need to use them all every time. Indeed, they will make some minor decisions pretty instinctively, but there will be bigger decisions as they get older for which they may need to ask the right questions.
Use a simple template to guide the decision making
Any guide should be easily remembered and as concise as possible.  Any process chosen should not be cumbersome but convenient and thorough.  Here is one sample:
Define the problem and desired end.
Brainstorm possible solutions. Identify the options
Evaluate the possible solutions.  Weigh the pros and cons
Pray about the solutions and apply Biblical wisdom.
Choose the solution that is God-honoring.
Implement the solution.
We can help our kids help themselves by taking the time to develop critical decision making skills.  You might be surprised how it will help you make decisions as well.
Scripture to Claim:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

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