• inspiration2intent

7 Parenting Tips for Kids & Teens-How to Become Successful Adult Critical Thinkers!!

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

As adults, we are faced with a multitude of decisions every day. How did we learn how to make choices for ourselves? Many of these patterns and thought processes were developed when we were growing up. As a parent of 2 teens and having been in the Helping Profession and Educational Field for over 20 years, I know that at times we really wish to protect our kids and sometimes decide things for them. Perhaps, you feel that you are an effective Decision Maker and are able to teach those skills to your child/children. Or perhaps, you can be indecisive, always changing your mind when presented with choices and end up feeling uncertain, creating unclear expectations for your family members & kids. We all have different Decision-Making styles. We all have a process in deciding things in our life. Whether we need to choose what to make for supper tonight or what pair of pants we should buy, there’s usually a list of steps that we follow to help us reach our decision. There are simple decisions and then there are very “Big” decisions. Making bigger decisions, such as buying a new house or car is always harder to make. “Bigger” decisions have a “Bigger” impact on our life. As parents, you need to decide things for your child/children and your family. Your kids pay witness to all your Decision-Making as they grow up. They inadvertently watch and learn many things in their formative and teen years. How do we make all these decisions and teach our children along the way to become confident and successful adult critical thinkers? We need to look at our Decision-Making Styles, Evaluate and Review them to ensure that we’re on the right track!

Follow the Steps Below and use the 7 Tips to help your kids become fantastic Critical Thinkers!


* Gathering Information & Facts- When making any decisions, we must gather information and facts. Researching for information online , reading relevant factual articles, listening to You Tube Videos, listening to Podcasts on the topic, calling whomever may be helpful to answer your questions and asking for pertinent information, scheduling information meetings with the people involved or with whom you may need the service from, ask friends/family members for their opinions or their experiences, read book(s) on this topic, consult with a professional about this topic and more. Doing these things will help you make a more informed decision.

* Brainstorm-Make a List all the different Solutions to the Problem. Generate as many realistic possibilities for your family & your child. Brainstorm with the people directly involved to elicit reasonable answers to the conflict. Just write them down. Don’t judge the ideas yet.

*Values- When making decisions, it’s always important to reflect on your Values and factor that into the Decision-Making process. You can look at your values in relation to family, time, parenting, finances, religious, ethics, education and whatever else is relevant to that decision.

*Evaluate the numerous Solutions-Evaluate each Solution and choose the Best Solution for your family. How do you do that? Make a Pros and Cons List to help you choose the best Solution for you. For each Solution, make a list of All the positive things in the Pros Section and all the negative things in the Cons Section.

*Decide- Make your decision.

Now, How do we teach our child/children how to be Great Decision Makers so they can develop excellent Critical Thinking Skills????

Tip #1- Introduce Choices when they are young. Present your child with choices when they are as young as 3-4 years old. For Example: Do you want a red apple or a yellow apple? Your child then gets to decide. They'll end up feeling more confident and empowered this way. As they grow up, the range of decisions that they make will expand. You can ask a Preschooler to choose their outfit for the next day, giving them 2-4 options, respecting the weather constraints and all. Always give your child some space for decision making but remember that you are the parent in the end.

Tip #2-Teach your child the value of Prioritizing- As parents, you must show and Role Model the importance of Prioritization and how to do it. Children start to communicate their wants and needs very early. They can point to objects and use words communicating their thoughts and feelings. As they get older, their communication skills and explanations get more detailed. Teach your child to ask themselves why they want the object, what choices he/she may have to make and the consequences of each choice. Example: Your child wants to eat a snack. "Why do you want to eat a snack? Are you hungry?" You can explain to them that if they eat a healthy snack,, they will feel better and will be full. It will help them grow and be strong. It will help them concentrate more efficiently too. Teach them to always ask themselves questions- Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How? We all know that young children ask you and everyone around them a lot of questions and that can sometimes be frustrating but….answering these questions in an age appropriate way helps them develop critical thinking skills too!! If you’re busy doing something important, then let them know that you’ll answer them a little later when you have time. Don’t forget to go back and see them later and try to answer them. They’ll learn to trust their instincts. Those exchanges will build a wonderful connection between you and your child too!

Tip #3- Consequences-Expectations should be clearly outlined. For your child to make responsible decisions, you must teach them clear expectations, along with demonstrating your family values.

Try to always explain to your children your expectations in various scenarios. Then, they’ll be able to reflect and realize whether they’re making a good choice or a bad decision and weigh it against your expectations.

Pre-established boundaries and consequences enables a parent to stop constantly worrying about establishing their parental authority. Keep it consistent.


*Make a Chart with 2 Columns- House Rules on one side and the Consequences for each rule on the other. Parents and children can all sit together to create the Rules and Consequences. Pictures or Pictograms can be used with younger children when listing the House Rules. You can change the rules as they get older.

Example: Let your child know your expectations when it comes to School. You want them to perform to their best abilities. They will then understand that if they choose not to study and instead play Video games there will be a clear Consequence. Perhaps, the House Rule is that they may be grounded or their Video games may be taken away for a short period of time. Clear expectations and consistency on your implementation of the rules will help your child develop foresight and they’ll be able to evaluate their own behavior. They will also probably show some restraint in breaking the House Rules as they realize that they can continue to excel with them! Consequences are a natural result of their choices.

*Important Note: Don’t use a large Consequence for a simple thing. “The Punishment should fit the crime”, as they say. Example: If they leave their pants on the floor, then perhaps grounding them may be too severe. Here, parents must use their judgement. Whatever consequences were given to your child should be followed through in order to provide Consistency and Clear Expectations. If a parent changes their mind all the time and only sometimes implements the House Rules, the child will learn that they often “get away with stuff”.

Tip # 4- Difficult Decisions- Some decisions are very difficult to make. Choosing a University, Curfew Deadlines, Screen Time limits, Sleepovers-yes/no, etc. At times, these decisions can end up in a battle between the child and the parents. Always try to understand why they are making a certain decision. Take turns hearing each other’s point of view with an open dialogue. Compromise can be made on both sides- the child’s and the parent’s side. Encourage your child to identify their priority and weigh it against the consequences before making a decision. Remind them of the House Rules that you all came up with together. As they get older, they will begin thinking more critically for themselves and the parents should step out of the way and allow them to learn and to grow. Your child may fall flat on their face. Failure allows us all to grow and learn. When faced with a similar situation the next time, they may do it differently. They must learn to start making bigger choices for themselves. Empower them. At times, when your children are younger, you may have to decide important things regarding their health, education, activities/sports and more. You can use the Decision-Making Steps provided at the beginning of the Blog and then refer back to the Tips to help you along.

Tip #5- Practice- Children and Teens can practice making decisions. Let them make mistakes. Teens should have boundaries and be guided by their parents. Praise your Child & Teen if they've made a great choice! That’s awesome! You still need to parent them and help them with choices when necessary.