How to make consistently good decisions
What do kids and adults do all day everyday?
It’s so automatic, many times we aren’t even aware that we are doing it.
Other times we think and agonize over it for days in order to do it right.
It’s so common, you’ve probably done it about 100 times already today…
We make decisions. Constantly.
You just made the decision to read this blog… or not.
You made the decision today about what time to get up, what to eat and how to spend your time.
You decide who to have relationships with, what to say and how to behave. It goes on and on…
You would think that something that we spend so much time doing, we would also spend a lot of time learning how to do well. Research however shows that we all tend to default to the way we’ve always done it, even when our results don’t turn out well. And we tend to teach and model the same faulty ways of decision making to our children. This why it is so important to develop good decision making skills and actively teach those skills to students through elementary school counseling lessons and other school counseling activities.
The Villains of Good Decision Making
According to the excellent book, Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath, there are four villains of good decision making. See how many of these have sabotaged your decisions recently:
- Limited options–It’s not that we have limited options. It’s that we frame our problem and decision making in a narrow frame and don’t look at all the options. Either we go to grandma’s for the holidays or we don’t. What if it’s possible to find another alternative? What if it’s possible to alternate holidays with the family visiting Grandma and her visiting us? What if both Grandma and the family traveled somewhere together?
- Confirmation Bias— We only look for information that supports our preconceived notions of the best decision. We ask other parents in the neighborhood who is the best 3rd grade teacher and then when Johnny gets someone else, we’ve already decided it’s going to be a bad year. What if instead we surveyed a larger sample? What if we assessed the actual learning experience?
- Short term emotion–We allow ourselves to be swayed by emotion in the moment which will quickly fade. We purchase a ridiculously expensive item of clothing because our child convinces us their life will be ruined otherwise. We send our child to a high priced college because they think their future career plans will fail if they attend the local state college.
- Overconfidence in our own predictions–We think that we are better predictors of the future and future trends than we actually are. We encourage our children to pick a particular career because we think it offers security and a solid future…then the career disappears off the career map. We think our child is such a natural at playing tiddlywinks that surely they will get the tiddlywinks scholarship…
Don’t worry we’ve all made all four of the mistakes in decision making more times than we can count. Luckily a solution is suggested by the authors. Before making any major decision follow the WRAP process:
W: Widen your options
R: Reality test your assumptions
A: Attain distance before deciding
P: Prepare to be wrong
By following this simple model, you can guarantee that your decision making will improve and everyone will benefit. Here’s another great idea, what if we modeled this for our students and taught them the WRAP model?
Related post: Kids and Decision Making
School Counselor Resource: Grab ‘n Go Lesson on Being Organized
Wyatt Learns about Being Organized
It’s time to catch the school bus and Wyatt can’t find anything. Where is his backpack? his lunch money? Wyatt is about to learn a valuable lesson about the importance of being organized and the benefits of planning ahead.
If you’ve ever lost your lunch money or misplaced your favorite toy, you can relate to Wyatt. this adorable story offers simple, helpful ideas that kids and parents can use to make life less stressful and more fun! Erin K. Casey, author of Zany Zia’s Hats to Where
Grab your copy here:
Visit Teachers Pay Teachers to access a lesson plan and much more for the Wyatt book:
School Counselor Resource on Decision Making Lessons