What every parent wants for their child is to give them the tools to become mature adults, that know how to make good decisions for themselves.

So how can we help our kids learn how to make good decisions for themselves? When they leave the house at 18 years old, when we are nowhere around, and they are faced with a problem, that they can look into their bag of tools and make a decision that is in their best interest.

The way I see it is if you want to get good a something, you have to practice. So, we have to give our kids practice with making decisions. Every time an issue arises, whether it be their issue or and issue of someone else’s they are talking about, is our chance to let them practice. When something comes up where a decision needs to be made, instead of saying “this is the way it is, because I’m your parent”, try sitting with them and discussing the problem. Right down the pros and cons and ask them what decision would they make and why. Don’t get emotionally involved, meaning try to keep your fears out of it.

Here’s an example: Your daughter says something about a girl at school, who is smoking cigarettes at 12 years old. Instead of freaking out and saying “ are you kidding, she is way to young to smoke, do her parents know about this”. This is an opportunity to communicate with your teen. By the way the definition of communication is: the exchange of information between individuals, not the opinion of one person. Ask your teen what she thinks about smoking, what are the things that are cool about it, and what are the things that are not good about it. You may be saying, “COOL ABOUT IT, are you crazy, there is nothing cool about it”, again your opinion is not communication. I guarantee you there are kids that think smoking is cool. What are the pro’s and con’s, how they feel about smoking, and what they think about this teen smoking at 12, if they think it is a good decision or not. I’m not saying if they come up with more reasons to smoke then not, that you buy them a pack of cigarettes.

Teens are pretty smart; give them the opportunity to show you they have a good head on their shoulders. So again, the goal is to help them practice making good decisions, don’t make the decisions for them through your opinions. What we want is are teens to feel free to come to us with anything, if they feel judgments, which most of the time your opinions will feel like, they will not want to communicate with you.

So here are the tips plain and simple.
• Start communicating with your teen; leave your opinions out of the conversation.
• Every time something comes up that appears to be a good topic, ex: smoking, drinking, body image, sex, drugs, friendships, careers, schools, style, okay any topic will do, practice, practice, practice!
• Practice by asking them questions about how they feel about it, go over the pros and cons, and ask them what they would do and why.

The more they learn how to make good decisions, the better decisions they will make for themselves when you are not around. The more confident they will be with who they are and continue to make good decisions. Would you agree that you as a parent have more experience with decision-making then your 13 year old? Of course you do, so make sure they feel free to come to you to learn this process.

Author's Bio: 

Debra Beck is a devoted mentor, and leading expert on the issues facing teen girls.

Born in Neptune, New Jersey, Debra moved to Arizona when she was seven. As a teenage girl, she struggled with the issues that normal teenage girls face – anxiety about school, friends, peer pressure, family life, not liking – or even knowing – who she was, and not fitting in. Debra's experience as a teenager, she says, was fraught with anxiety, uneasiness and feelings of confusion, frustration and self-doubt. What she didn’t realize was that these difficult years were preparing her for her life’s work.

When her two daughters became teenagers, Debra came to understand that her experience as a teen wasn’t the exception, but the norm. Through observing her daughters, she saw that these girls, and so many of their friends, were confronting the very issues she had faced. It was then that Beck became cognizant not only of how painful it is to be a teenage girl, but realized that low self-esteem was a universal problem for most girls in their teens.

With 20 plus years experience in self-development, a first-hand awareness of just how difficult the teenage years can be, empathy, and a passion for making a difference, Debra discovered her life’s work: helping young girls learn how to truly love themselves from the inside out.