Ever watch how a coach teaches an athlete a new skill? Generally, the coach breaks the skill down into smaller parts, then lets the athlete practice until the skill is mastered.

That’s a good way to help your teen learn how to make better decisions. Instead of making all the decisions for your high schooler, he needs to take the responsibility for making his own choices. Here’s how to coach your teen in making good decisions:

  1. Discuss the problem. What is it your teen needs to do or decide? What does he already know about this issue?
  2. Gather information. If your teen is facing a decision about a situation he’s never faced before, encourage him to avoid making any choice until he has information at his fingertips. Sometimes, this means a trip to the library or a session on the Internet.
  3. List the alternatives. Encourage your teen not to think of all decisions as either-or choices. There may be several alternatives.
  4. Think about consequences. Draw a line down a piece of paper. Write the alternative at the top. On the left side of the paper, write the positive consequences from the decision. Write negative consequences on the right side.
  5. Consider feelings and values. Sometimes, the best decision on paper may not feel right. Teens need to consider their family’s values as they make a choice.
  6. Choose the best possible course of action. Although it’s hard for a parent to let go of this part of the decision-making process, it’s the most important step to turn over to your teen. If your teen makes a wise choice, be sure to praise him. If he makes a poor choice, help him see how he can avoid that mistake another time.

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