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Raising teenagers can be quite a challenge, but as challenging as it may be, one of the most important things we can do as a parent is to help them learn how to make good decisions.

The choices they make during their teenage years can help shape their future significantly. As a parent, we can play an important role in helping our teens cultivate good judgement and make thoughtful decisions. Making good decisions is a skill that will serve them well throughout their lives, and it's something we can help them learn early on.

Here, we will explore some practical approaches to help you empower and encourage your teenager to make good choices at the same time, building a stronger parent-teen bond. Some of the more important things that will be covered here include:

  • Understanding the teenage brain

  • Talking to your teenager about decision-making

  • Laying the foundation of trust and open communication

  • Teaching your teenager how to think critically

  • Encouraging goal-setting and long-term vision

  • Helping your teenager deal with peer pressure

  • Setting clear boundaries and consequences

how to help your teenagers make good decisions

Understanding the Teenage Brain

It's a well-known fact that your teenager's brain is still developing and will continue to do so until they are about 25 years old. This means that teenagers are still learning how to evaluate between the good and the bad and how far they can test boundaries. Their brains are known to be more impulsive than adult brains, and they are more likely to make decisions based on their emotions rather than logic.

This is why it's important to be patient with your teenager when they make mistakes. They are still learning, and with your help and guidance, and through the mistakes they make, they will eventually learn how to make better decisions.

Laying the Foundation of Trust and Open Communication

Teenagers have a tendency to keep to themselves and it's up to you as parents to open up the lines of communication with your teens.

From experience, I believe this needs to be done earlier on and a lot of how they open up to you depends on your reaction. If you give your teen a safe, non-judgmental space for them to discuss their thoughts, concerns, and aspirations, they'll be more likely to open up to you without much prodding. It sets a base of trust and open communication in your relationship with them and they'll always come back to share their lives with you.

With that being said, it does take some work as a parent. It's not easy for a parent to hold back opinions or be critical and quick to judge that's why it takes a lot of work trying to refrain from everything that would sometimes come naturally to any parent.

For your teenager to want to open up to you, you would have to practice active listening, and genuinely pay attention to them without interrupting them or being quick to impose your views and thoughts. In return, they will feel respected and their feelings validated.

Don't forget to share your own experiences, including the mistakes that you made as a teenager and the lessons you have learned. Showing your vulnerability will only enhance the possibility of your teens being more receptive to any guidance and advice you have for them.

Talking to Your Teenager About Decision-Making

One of the best things you can do to help your teenager make good decisions is to talk to them about it.

You can always start talking about the different types of decisions that we as parents have to make every day and how those decisions have an impact on the outcome of situations. Then you can talk to them about the decisions that they make on a daily basis, regardless of how small or big, and how those decisions affect them.

Some of the choices they make in their teenage life will affect their future self so we must help them understand that their choices can have a real impact on their lives, both now and in the future.

Bottomline is, it is important that we explain to our teenagers how and what steps they can take to make good decisions and the consequences of their decisions.

Teaching Your Teenager How to Think Critically

Critical thinking is an invaluable skill to have which equips us all with the ability to assess situations, weigh the pros and cons, to make informed decisions.

To be able to make good decisions, encourage your teens to ask questions and help them learn to gather information on how to evaluate them. Discuss with them real-life scenarios or simply what's happening in the news, from this, you will get an idea of how they think and their perspective on any situation. With this in mind, get into open-ended conversations and challenge their perspective. Teach them to consider multiple perspectives.

To enhance their critical thinking abilities, it's so important to expose your teenager to diverse experiences, so initiate these for them to start the process.

Encouraging Goal Setting and Long-Term Vision

Growing up I never had someone to teach me about goal settings or ask me about my long-term goals. I'm not sure whether it's in the culture or everybody was just busy with their own lives. The older I got, I saw how important it was and I wished that when I was younger I had that extra 'push' or at least have conversations to encourage the practice of goal setting. The only goal I had or what was drilled into me was to do well in each and every exam. Unfortunately, life isn't just about your first 18 years!

Nevertheless, I'm glad that I went through that because I know better than to let my teen not have goals, be it long-term or short-term. I'm quite proud of him in this sense because he has set goals to achieve beyond his studies. He might not follow it to a tee, might have made some wrong choices, and might have had road bumps along the way but he learns from them. He might have to make some adjustments but he gets right back up and does what he needs to do.

Encouraging your teenager to set short-term and long-term goals can be highly motivating and help them make better decisions. Having a clear vision for their future will empower them to make choices aligned with their values and goals.

Helping Your Teenager Deal with Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is a major challenge for teenagers. It can be difficult for them to resist the pressure to do things that they know are wrong.

There are a few things you can do to help your teenager deal with peer pressure. First, talk to them about it. Explain the dangers of peer pressure and how to resist it.

Second, help them build their self-esteem. Help them feel confident in their own decisions, so they are less likely to give in to peer pressure.

Third, teach them how to say no. Help them learn how to assertively refuse to do things that they don't want to do.

Setting Clear Boundaries and Consequences

While fostering open communication and critical thinking, it's equally essential to set clear boundaries and establish consequences for inappropriate behavior. Clear boundaries provide your teenagers with a sense of structure and predictability, helping them understand the acceptable limits of their actions.

Get your teens involved in discussions about establishing rules and consequences. This way, they will feel more accountable for their decisions and actions. It won't be easy, but consistent with enforcement. Consequences should be fair and consistent and should always be related to the specific decision that your teenager made.

Keep in mind that excessive punishment is sometimes unnecessary and may lead to rebellion and may damage the trust that you've worked hard on building.

Raising teenagers is more rewarding than challenging if you have a healthy parent-teen relationship. With a foundation of trust and open communication, we can equip our teenagers with all the right tools to succeed in life. And if ever they feel stuck and need some guidance, they will look to you.

Helping them make good and wise decisions will always serve them well throughout their lives without any doubt.


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