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Dr. Paula suggests a framework to help kids make effective decisions and to accept personal responsibility for their consequences.

Shared By Paula A. Calabrese (Open Post) – Updated Date Don’t show on local voices May 8, 2011
Our kids are at an age when they want to make some of their own decisions.  My husband and I feel that we’ve given them some ground rules for making good decisions, but I’m wondering if we’ve left out anything really important. Are there are some guidelines that we could use when we talk with the kids about decision-making?  -Elizabeth W.
For me, responsible decisions are all about values, values, values— just like real estate is all about location, location, location. You choose what you value. You value what you choose.
Effective decision-making is a skill that will serve your kids for the rest of their lives. Teaching them how to decide and how to think through the consequences of their decisions is a gift that will keep on giving. It’s never too early or too late to give kids the tools necessary to guide their decision-making process.

Making decisions is basically a step-by-step process built on a strong foundation of personal values that are influenced by the family, mentoring adults, friends and peers, life experiences and societal mores. Although values are essentially an individual’s own choice, they are heavily influenced by others.  But it always comes down to the individual’s decision. Here are some steps to share with your youngsters when you talk with them about the importance of informed decision-making. Consider using this 7-step framework as the basis of your conversation with your youngster.
 1. Identify core personal values
Having a clear understanding of your own values really helps when it comes to making decisions. Values are like budgeted money. What you budget for is a clear indication of what’s important in your life. If you have 50 percent of your budget targeted for clothing and only 10 percent for
education, then it’s clear that outward appearance is more valuable to you than learning. Where you spend your money demonstrates what’s important to you.  The decisions you make are an outward expression of the values you hold dear.

This is key to decision-making. You base your decisions on the values that are most important to you.
 This is a pretty abstract concept, so you may have to start with a few concrete examples. Explain your family’s values in general and how they are played out in your daily lives: places you go, things you do, money you spend, work that you do.

 Then have the kids make a list of their own values. Start by asking your kids to tell you about 10 things that are important to them. Then, help them define the listed items. For example, is looking good to others more important than being respected by others? Is being liked by others more important than being independent? Is having lots of money more important than sharing with others? Once you get the kids talking about what they value, you might have them list their values in their order of importance to them. This list then becomes the standard against which decisions are made and measured.

2. Recognize and identify the situation that demands a decision
Reflect on the situation. Discuss it with others who might be knowledgeable about it so that they can help to clarify the issues that need to be considered. For example, a youngster might be faced with the dilemma of whether to cover for a friend who skipped school when the friend’s parents inquire. Talking it out with the friend might help both to see one another’s points of view.

3. Brainstorm lots of ideas
Now that the situation is clear, state it in a question: If my friend’s parents ask his about skipping school should I tell the truth or cover up for him?  Then, write down all the possibilities, crazy or not, that you can think of.  In this case, you could avoid talking with the parents; not answer the question directly, but skirt the issue; deflect to another friend and tell the parents to ask that person; tell your friend to tell his own parents the truth himself; lie to the parents etc. Then, weigh the options against your own values list. What do you value?  How do you act, based on your values? Which value would you preserve or deny if you complied with your friend’s request?