Tag Archives: kids and decision making

Kids and tough friendship decisions


As a school counselor for twenty years, one of the most common problems that I talked to kids about was friendship.

What do you do when a friend wants to do something that is unkind, thoughtless, or involves breaking the rules?

What do you do when a friend is bossy, self-centered and treats you unkindly?

Peer pressure and friendship decisions are a tough concept for us all. Relationships are messy for both children and adults.

Children and Self-Worth

One of the key concepts that all children need to learn and internalize is a feeling of worth and value that is inherent in their authentic self rather than based on another’s opinion. Learning to be our authentic selves is hard. We all try to avoid this difficult work.  It’s not just children that spend time trying to look and act like someone they are not. Just look at the trends on social media or television.  How can we help children with this tough work?

Being a Best Friend

I love books that combine a good story with a good lesson. It’s even better if the lesson can be summed up in one memorable sentence. The book Hunter’s Best Friend at School does all of the above and more. Written by Laura Malone Elliott, it is the tale of two raccoons who are best friends and want to do everything together and just alike. This doesn’t normally create problems, but when Stripe shows up at school in a mischief-making mood, Hunter is faced with the choice of whether or not to follow along. He soon discovers that making the wrong choice not only means they are both in trouble, but also that he is not even happy with himself. When his mother discovers his dilemma, she teaches him a great life lesson when she says, “Sometimes being a best friend means you have to help your friend be his best self.” Couldn’t we all benefit from her wisdom?

Three Tips to Help Children Be Their Best Selves

How can we as parents and educators help children recognize that they are “enough” just as they are?  How can we encourage them to be their best selves? How can we teach them to interact in a positive way with friends, even when friends are challenging?  Here are some tips:

  • Recognize the part that you play as a role model.  Children imitate what they see around them and if you do not stand firm in your own values, if you are constantly trying to measure up to someone else’s standard, children will follow the same path.
  • Recognize and encourage children in their areas of strength.  Too often we focus on areas that need improvement and while this is necessary, make sure the balance of your interaction is supportive and empowering.
  • Teach children through example and practice how to interact with peers in ways that encourage others to be their “best selves”.  Establish core values and talk about them often.Use books, movies or television examples to spark discussion. Look for teachable moments in every day life to demonstrate good decision making skills.

Related Posts:

Friendship Troubles

Kids and Decision Making

Helping kids find their voice

Wyatt Learns about Good Manners

Wyatt is always wondering about something and lately it is how to get his friend, Max to change his bossy ways.  What can he do?  Join Wyatt as he considers some rather unusual options until he finally discovers that a heart to heart talk with Max can create a new friendship with an old friend.  Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle

Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners


Kids and decision making

In a recent post, Tim Elmore discusses the consequences of removing risk taking from children’s lives.  In older times, summer or free time, was when kids roamed the neighborhood playing, creating their own games and developing their own network of friends. Parents relayed the rules. Kids knew their boundaries and what they were allowed to do.   Parents couldn’t check on kids’ movements with cell phones and days were not filled with scheduled activities that kept both parents and kids occupied from dawn to dusk. It was truly a different world that seems foreign now when every second of everyday is choreographed and planned with activity.  I’m not saying it was perfect or even better but it is true that left to their own devices, kids had to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills that are not demanded in today’s world where parents or other adults are always on hand to make decisions, influence consequences and even manipulate the environment.

Since it seems  unlikely that our society will step back in time to the previous generational model where children were faced daily with decisions that involved everything from how to spend their time (what to do) to determining which activities were dangerous and which were not (how to behave), it seems the least we can do is give kids some tools for how to make those critical decisions when they are faced with them.

Here are a few techniques we can use to help children learn to make effective and reasonable decisions on their own:

Have children ask what their role models would do– Help children through biographies, movies, television and other media identify responsible role models.  Make sure they recognize great role models in their everyday life.  Have them get in the habit of noticing how their role models handle tough decisions.  Then help children evaluate whether or not they made the right decision.

Link good behaviors to moral character- Develop core values as a family, as a classroom or as a team. Discuss them often.  Point them out in others.  Notice how behavior follows good values.  Develop empathy by pointing out how our behavior has consequences for others. Have kids learn to ask, “How would I feel if I were on the receiving end of that behavior?”

Develop critical thinking by emphasizing values over rules–  It’s not enough to just follow the rules.  Help kids evaluate rules based on values and determine why it is necessary to follow the rule (or not!).


Wyatt the Wonder Dog

Learns about Teamwork


Camping with his Boy Scout Troop is exciting and fun… until Max takes a serious fall while hiking.  When Wyatt and the rest of the Scouts use their emergency training to get Max safely out of the woods, they learn the value of teamwork and the power of community to achieve big goals.


Wyatt Learns about Teamwork