Parents want to raise confident kids who make wise choices. That’s the parental desire for children almost as soon as they enter the family. But the journey from babe to smart-thinking young adult is a verrrrrry long and rocky road. Quite honestly, there are just a lot of forces in this world that work against parents doing their job well and achieving their goal of raising confident children.
I mean, sometimes it’s all parents can do to get their kids to graduate high school, much less grow confident and avoid making foolish choices that will negatively impact their lives long term.
Let me make this clear: no parenting formula can guarantee that your child will grow up making smart life choices. Your child was born with free will, and even if you follow parenting advice from the Bible or from child psychologists or even from me, there are simply no absolute guarantees.
That being said, I do believe that your chances are much better at raising wise-thinking kids if you adopt some basic family principles. Many of you may already be doing these and if so, I will only say, KEEP IT UP! Consistency is the key to successful parenting.
But many of you, if you can be honest with yourself, will have to admit that you’re not doing any of these, or only a few, or maybe you’re just not doing them very well. In that case, may I encourage you to re-dedicate yourself to adopting these principles and being very intentional about helping your kids be prepared to successfully face life without you?
Give Them a Strong Foundation
Your children need a compass to guide their choices. If not, they will make decisions based on whatever feels good or makes sense in the moment.
I’ve talked a lot about establishing core values in your home. I believe very strongly that the core values that you follow as a family will be the foundation that will give your children direction in life.
When they are with their friends who are tempting them to drink, what voices will be loud in their heads? When they are on their own in college and are tempted to blow off studying and focus on having fun, what voices will be loud in their heads? Their friends or the foundation that you’ve spoken into them and over them since they were little?
Allow Them to Learn From Their Wrong Choices
If your child makes a wrong choice, you will be tempted to rescue them or bail them out. But allowing them to suffer the natural consequences of their bad decision will be one of the biggest learning experiences they will have.
If your child breaks the team rule, goes to a party with alcohol, and gets benched for the next few games, don’t step in and fight it or try to talk the coach out of it. I don’t care how much the team needs your young athlete.
If your child spends their money foolishly and then comes to you asking for more, don’t give in and dig into your pockets. Let them learn what it feels like to not have spending money until it’s time for the next paycheck or allowance.
When your child learns that bad choices result in bad consequences, they will be more likely not to make those wrong decisions.
Let Them Learn to Solve Their Own Problems
This is closely related to the last principle of not rescuing them. However, this principle goes broader. When your child is struggling with a problem on the team, is frustrated with the coach, or is facing a friend conflict, the first thing you will want to do is give your child some advice.
But what if, instead, you asked them questions that would lead them to come up with their own solutions? Or even just backed off altogether?
As your child learns to solve their own problems, they learn to think for themselves and that will be a huge deterrent to bad choices late on.
Teach Them Decision-Making Skills
Do your kids know the value of making a pros and cons list when it comes to making a decision?
Teach them the art of decision making with a few key steps:
- investigate the situation in detail
- explore and write down all the options available to them
- talk about those options (pros and cons)
- select the best option
- make a plan and then evaluate it before putting it into action
In other words, teach your kids to do their homework when it comes to making a decision, not make it based on what their friends think or what they feel in an emotional moment.
How many times has your child wanted to quit a sport after a bad game, only to fall in love with the sport again two weeks later?
Talk About Setting Goals
Help your child learn the power of having goals. Goals will influence the choices they make. Remember to help them…
- Set well-defined goals.
- Set measurable goals.
- Set goals that can be achieved.
- Set Goals within a time frame.
- Break the goal down into manageable steps.
- Plan the first step.
- Take the first step.
Teach them to keep goals in mind now as they make choices that could potentially derail their dreams.
Teaching your kids to think for themselves so that they are not easily talked into making bad choices is a process that must begin when your child is young. However, if your kids are older it’s not too late to help them learn. But it takes parenting intentionality and consistency. Are you committed to it?
If you are struggling with any of these steps, please let me help. Book your free 15-minute parenting coaching consult here.