Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Many of the students I see in individual counseling need help with decision-making.  For those in the lower grades I usually stick to a simple 4 step decision-making model.  By third grade I like to begin with a simple list of decisions and have them categorize them from 0=Not under my control to 5=Study it a lot.  This gets them thinking about the difference between very automatic decisions and ones they really need to think about.  I then use some model (depending on developmental level) of Win-Win Decision Making.  For children to use win-win they must realize that generally what they want, or the other party involved, is not going to please both in a conflict.  They will have to come up with an additional solution that will leave them both satisfied.  For some students we talk about how problems can be turned into goals.  Decision-making requires a child to assertively say what they want and collaborate with another person.  I frequently role-play with students how they could come to a win-win decision with peers and then encourage them to practice between sessions.  With my younger students I frequently send home a handout or talk to the parents about the decision making steps and how they can help their child practice.  Sometimes this involves encouraging the parents to give their children more opportunities to make some decisions and be willing to negotiate about choices within the family.  I also urge parents and teachers to think out loud so children get more exposure to decision-making and see how all decisions have consequences.  Decision-making is a very important life skill and one that often requires direct teaching before it is mastered.

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