On Decision Making

Ability to make good decisions is key to just about everything from work to relationships to investing. And yet, the process of how we educate and raise young people is woefully absent of any useful decision making training and is arguably actually sabotaging any chance that good decision making may emerge.

As young people grow up, all decisions are made for them from what they eat to what they wear to how they spend their time. Through teenage years the only "decisions" they get to make are about what electives to take at school and even that only towards the end of high school. Not surprisingly, they yearn for more freedom and the more structure is imposed on them the more they rebel against it.

What if instead of depriving them of decision making authority we were to do more to teach them the skills of making better decisions?

Starting with simple things such as that every decision is a trade-off. What if instead of saying "you can play computer games for not more than 2 hours and your curfew is 9 p.m." we give them some decision making power by saying "you can have your curfew extended by an hour if you agree to watch less TV". After that engaging in a "negotiation" is also a useful skill to learn in the sense of having to asses the relative "value" of an hour of watching TV VS and hour more spent out with friends.

Currently as kids finish high school and turn 18 they get positively drunk with freedom to, among other things, get drunk. If they are in college, they have to make some decisions that will affect the rest of their life so they better make some good ones. If they do not go to college, they often end up making no decisions at all as that is not something they had a lot of practice with.

Delegating authority to subordinates in business is tried and true way of brining up leaders who will make good decisions. Why not raise our children that way. Spoken by someone who never had a curfew.


Vera said…
This is a great post, Miljenko. I did not think about this aspect as I am trying to raise my kids but agree with your observation.
Vera said…
This is a great observation, Miljenko. I did not think about this aspect as I am trying to raise my kids, but I agree with your conclusion.

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