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Helping kids learn to make decisions on their own: Mom Minute Monday

Some children cannot make up their mind about anything, no matter how big or small the issue. We talk to a Cleveland doctor about how to help kids make decisions.

CLEVELAND — Some kids really struggle when it comes to making a decision. It's actually something 3News ‘GO!’ anchor Danielle Wiggins deals with regarding one of her own children.

This "Mom Minute Monday," Wiggins took her questions to Dr. David Miller, Medical Director for Pediatric Integrative Medicine with University Hospitals, to find out what parents can do to help an indecisive child.

“As parents, it's our job to raise our kids for the real world,” Wiggins says. “However, if we recognize that our children are indecisive and can't make a decision, what are we to do?”  

Dr. Miller says to start small.

“Giving them the opportunity to make small decisions at first that are safe decisions, where there's no negative outcomes and either way they go is fine, is a good way to begin,” Dr. Miller says.

Start with questions like:

  • "Would you rather eat this or that for lunch today?"
  • "Would you like to go here or there?"

From there, he says gradually let them make more important decisions.

“Another thing that we can do is give them gradually increased options for decision making with increased weight on the outcomes.”

As the child experiences the different outcomes of decisions, it helps them learn the decision-making process. 

Dr. Miller also says one thing kids can often get hung up on is making a decision that’s “right” vs. “wrong.”

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“I think sometimes kids can get focused more on the negative outcome than understanding how good it is that they actually made a decision. Even if there is a negative outcome, praise the effort and praise the process."

The doctor also says, if your child makes a decision and has a negative outcome, turn the negative outcome into a positive by focusing on what they learned through the process.

Sometime when it comes to kids not being able to make a decision, the parent can be somewhat responsible.

Dr. Miller says it’s important to make sure you’re not making decisions for your child when you’re asking them to do it themselves. Also, give them time to make a decision.

“When we're in a busy day and we just need them to make a choice, sometimes it's easier to make it for them if they're being slow.”

But if you do this, the child can learn that they don’t need to make a decision.

“The child can learn that, ‘If I just don't make a decision, someone will make a decision for me and things still happen.'”

Another important tip is to respect and go with the child’s choice, once they’ve made the decision.

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