It can be tempting to make decisions for our kids so they do the right thing, but it is important to let them make decisions for themselves so they get a chance to practice. During the decision-making process, the thinking brain weighs different, competing alternatives as well as the outcomes from those possible choices.

You can help children who are very young practice their decision-making skills by offering simple choices, such as “Do you want juice or milk with breakfast?” or “Do you want to wear your blue or red shoes today?”

As kids get older, they can take on tougher challenges in the decision-making realm. Perhaps your child has two competing activities scheduled for the same time, such as a soccer playoff game and a friend’s special invitation to go camp out. Encourage your child to make the choice. Not only will he or she be practicing decision-making skills, your child will be happier with the decision since he or she was part of the process.

The idea is to let our children practice making decisions. Let them ponder their choices, decide, and live with the consequences. Try not to solve all their decision-making problems and resist rescuing them from making decisions that they can reasonably make themselves. If they don’t make the perfect choice every time, it’s OK.

The goal for parents isn’t perfection for every decision right in the moment. Our goal is to help our children develop a way to think things through as they move ahead in life.