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Influence your children’s behavior and decision-making now

You as parents need to KNOW that everything is okay for your children. You can’t guess, hope, wonder. You must KNOW.  Towards this end, you must influence your children’s behavior.

Kids (all of us, actually), when it comes right down to it, do whatever they choose to do. Our need to KNOW that everything is okay for our kids (it’s more our selfish need to KNOW of our children’s welfare than it is our children’s welfare), dictates the two major responsibilities I believe we have to our children:

1) To equip them to live through whatever decisions they make; and

2) To try to influence the decisions they make (see: “Science says parents of successful kids have these 13 things in common,”)

We must help our children develop a functional decision-making (and all behaviors are the results of a decision, conscious and/or unconscious) skillset; “functional” in that it results in good decisions. I define “good decisions” as decisions made that serve the decision maker. All skills improve with right practice and repetition.


1) To equip them to live through whatever decisions they make

A common model for decision-making/problem-solving:

Step 1: Identify Problem – What decision do I need to make?

Step 2: Collect Information – What do I need to know in order to make the decision/solve the problem?

Step 3: Brainstorm – What choices do I have? [This is my favorite step because, by definition, I can never be wrong. This step directs us to generate/make-up/imagine as many possible means of making a good (serving the decision maker) decision, solving the problem (identified in Step 1) without consideration (yet; that comes next) of likelihoods]. Our ability to solve a problem is limited only by our imagination. Until we can imagine a solution, we cannot begin working towards that solution.

Step 4: Weigh Pros & Cons – What are the advantages and disadvantages of each choice?

Step 5: – Choose best option and act upon it

Step 6: – Evaluate Process – How did I do? [This step is most frequently ignored. Reviewing our process and outcome of that process help us to improve upon such a process next time and to determine (if the outcome turns out poorly) whether or not to repeat the process with changes based on this review/evaluation. IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: Poor outcome does NOT imply poor process.]


2) To try to influence the decisions they make

The two most powerful means of influencing the decisions (remember: decisions = behavior) our children make:

  1. praise the behavior you wish to see; and
  2. model the behavior you wish to see.

Simple, in that there are few moving parts; but, very demanding (see earlier article Template for improved family & self careWorth the trouble, but very demanding.


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