What kind of decisions do teenagers face today? Teenagers deal with a number of life-changing decisions every day. From choosing their career path to deciding whether to get married, they face several important choices that may determine what the future holds. Talking about the future, they must decide whether to go to college, what career to pursue, where to live, who to date, and even whom to vote for. No wonder teenagers often feel under pressure to make these decisions early in life. Given these matters, teenage decision-making activities are important to train them to develop critical thinking and prevent reckless decisions.
For that reason, parents and teachers play an essential role in helping them through this stage of development. They can guide them to do the right thing while not interfering with their decisions. But before we go further discussing teenage decision-making activities, let’s have a look at teens’ brains.
A Look Inside The Teenage Brain
Adolescents go through a period of physical and mental changes during puberty. Their brains grow and change at an accelerated rate. During this time, the frontal lobe becomes more active and fully developed.
As a result, adolescents become more aware of what others think of them and are less likely to act impulsively. They also often begin to seek out peer approval and social acceptance. In the teenage years, the prefrontal cortex develops, allowing teens to make more rational decisions.
However, the amygdala continues to develop until around age 25, making teens less likely to make logical choices when faced with emotionally charged situations. Teenagers also tend to rely on an area of the brain called the limbic system to help them make decisions.
This area of the brain controls emotion, impulse, aggression, and instinctive behavior, and it is not fully developed until the mid-20s. The limbic system may explain why teens often act illogical, imprudent, or emotional.
So, Why Are Teenage Decision-Making Activities Important?
Teenagers often make small decisions every day that show what matters to them. These decisions can tell you much about their values and priorities, including whether they’re willing to sacrifice something for another.
Think about the last time you had an awful day. Did you skip breakfast? Or did you go out with friends after school? What happened? Was there anything that could have prevented your bad mood?
If you didn’t have enough money for a movie ticket, maybe you could have skipped dinner. Maybe if you’d studied for a test, you wouldn’t have gotten distracted by Facebook.
You might have missed out on a fun activity because you were too tired. Teenagers make many small decisions every day that reveal their values and priorities. Consider what these decisions reveal about what’s important.
Write a reflection about any decisions you’ve made recently that revealed your values and priorities.
Decision-making and problem-solving are important skills for all ages, but especially for teenagers. They need to learn how to make good choices and solve problems.
There are many ways to teach these skills. Some involve role-playing, while others require hands-on experience. Ethical dilemmas are often discussed in the classroom but rarely are students given an opportunity to reflect on their own beliefs and opinions.
Students can grow and become more empathetic when discussing topics like abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment. By using this resource, teachers can allow students to explore different perspectives and gain insight into their beliefs.
What Are The Best Thinking Strategies For Teenagers?
Brain growth during childhood means that your child will begin to: think more logically, think about things more abstractly, and understand that issues aren’t always simple.
Pick up on other people’s emotions and empathize with them. Solve complex problems in a logical, structured way. Get a better perspective on the past and future.
You can support brain development by encouraging empathy, talking about feelings, highlighting that others have different perspectives and circumstances, reinforcing that many people can be impacted by one action, and supporting logical thinking.
It is important to emphasize the short- and long-term consequences when talking with children. Your child’s brain is still developing, so if you talk about the consequences of action immediately and in the long term, you will help the healthy development of his/her prefrontal cortex.
You should try to match your language level with your teenager’s understanding. Ask him/her to explain in his/her own words what he/she has just heard. To ensure your child understands, ask him/her to confirm what you say with another question.
If you’re looking for an activity to help your child develop decision-making and problem-solving skills, consider using the following steps.
- Define the problem – What exactly is the problem? Is there anything else going on at school/home life, etc.?
- List all the possible solutions – What are the different options available to solve the problem? Are any other solutions even possible?
Dramatizing Based Decisions
Role-playing can help students understand how decisions impact others. Students should choose an issue that affects them personally, then create a role play about making a decision on that topic.
Have students act out the consequences of each option and see if they agree with the results. Discussing the pros and cons of each option will help students understand how their own opinions may change depending on the situation.
They can write their voices on a piece of paper. We usually love to make a SWOT analysis (strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat) to know why they think the issues bring benefits and what kind of threat they will face when they get such a problem in the future.
The ICED Process is a method of thinking about complex problems. It helps students understand the different types of decisions they may face in life.
Using the ICED process, students can identify the problem, create alternatives, evaluate them, and choose the best option. In business, this term refers to ICEDR or ICEDRIVE.
The students will identify what issues or decisions that need to be made. In this stage, they must logically examine the goals, objectives, and desired results they expect.
After that, students are encouraged to gather data or information connected to the decision or issue they are dealing with. They can make options that consider the risks and benefits of making the decision.
Next, they will be able to understand the pros and cons of each option they have to make better decisions. And as for the final step, students will review their outcomes as the results of the decision they have made.
Planning Ahead For Future Goals
Shaping your life towards a positive goal gives you the motivation to make good decisions today. In this activity, adults ask teens to brainstorm a list of school subjects and activities they enjoy and then list a possible career that aligns with those interests.
Teens can then review their lists and pick one career that they’d like to pursue someday. Have them write down what skills and additional training they’ll need to succeed in this career.
Finally, they can create an action plan of how they might achieve their chosen career in these decision-making activities for youth that help them think about how the choices they’ve made so far may prevent them from reaching their goals.
What Are The Best Behavior Strategies For Teenagers?
How to help teens make the right decisions?
Just like you when you were teenagers, decision-making is a skill you need to learn for a lifetime, depending on the situation. As parents, we shouldn’t push our kids to master decision-making without offering guidance. It is expected that your teens will get confused about so many options they are facing. And that’s your role works! Here are some tips to help your teenagers make the right decisions:
- Foster open communication: This is the key to every relationship, especially the parent-child relationship. By having good communication, your kids will find a safe zone to share their thoughts, ideas, and feeling with you. You can listen to them and respond only when they ask you to. Leave the judgment away! Your kids only need a good listener and adviser, not a judge!
- Offer guidance: Since you have lived longer than your teens, your experiences are more prosperous than theirs, generally. Hence, you can give your opinions and experiences related to the issue you are discussing with your teens. That way, they will learn to dump the negative sides and take the positives from your sides to make a decision.
- Teach problem-solving and critical thinking: These skills are beneficial to identify situations, analyze options, and execute the best outcomes and decisions. You can teach them to write a SWOT analysis (we have included this topic above!). Thus, they can evaluate their issues better before making decisions.
- Set realistic expectations and boundaries: Sometimes, life doesn’t get us what we want. Thus, you need to tell them that it’s okay to make mistakes for the first time in trying to make a decision. Also, provide clear boundaries while giving your teens room to make decisions within certain limits you both agreed on. By giving those four steps we have discussed so far, you can slowly allow your kids to independently execute their decisions without your opinions.
Decision-making is a skill that everyone must learn as they grow up. As we become more independent, we have fewer opportunities to rely on our parents’ advice when making important decisions. However, making good decisions now will help us navigate adulthood successfully.
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