With Spring Break around the corner, many students are faced with decisions regarding drinking, drug use, and partying.
With that in mind, how can we facilitate healthy decision-making in our students?
Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) explains that “being present to protect your teen from situations that could potentially hurt him or her will always be an intense urge that often cannot be realistically fulfilled.”
As our children grow older, parenting becomes less about control and more about offering guidance. PAMF offers some tips on becoming a guiding force for your teens:
- Allow them to describe the problem or situation in their own words. Use open-ended questions that start with “how,” “why,” or “what.” Try to put yourself in their shoes to understand their thoughts and really listen to what they’re saying.
- Talk with them about choices. Help your teen to see alternatives that may be smarter or more responsible – sometimes they don’t believe they have other options. Be sure to define what constitutes a safe, smart choice.
- Help them identify and compare possible consequences of their choices. Explain (without lecturing!) the consequences that different choices can have and how those can impact their goals.
- Allow them to make a decision and carry it out. Remember, they may make a choice that differs from what you prefer.
- Ask them how it worked out. Allow them to live and learn from mistakes if they’re made.
- Most importantly, praise them when they make a good choice!
“To feel comfortable talking openly with you, your teen needs to know that you will not punish him or her for being honest.”
For more information from PAMF about helping teens to make responsible choices, click here.
“A kindly aunt had taken him to a cobbler to have a pair of shoes custom-made for him. The shoemaker asked, ‘Do you want a round toe or a square toe?’ Young Ronald hemmed and hawed, so the cobbler said, ‘Come back in a day or two and tell me what you want.’
A few days later the cobbler saw young Reagan and asked what he had decided about the shoes. ‘I haven’t made up my mind,’ he answered. ‘Very well, your shoes will be ready tomorrow,’ said the cobbler.
When Reagan got the shoes, one had a round toe and the other a square toe. Reagan said, ‘Looking at those shoes every day taught me a lesson. If you don’t make your own decisions, somebody else makes them for you.’”
Make good decisions, Chaps!