Everyday life is filled with decisions to make. Young children are estimated to make about 3,000 decisions a day, as they mature it can increase to roughly 35,000. The decisions children make shape them into the person they will become and form the life paths that they will pursue. So how can we help them become better decision-makers? I believe it begins with their well-being because it affects their day-to-day decision-making and vice versa. I have worked with young people for a long time and have seen how guidance in these areas help them shine. Here are the essential lessons in well-being you should start teaching your kids if you want them to make better choices.
Lesson 1: How to identify and manage emotions
Regulating emotions is vital for learning, solving problems, creative work, and building relationships. Emotions are crucial for quickly assessing a situation and for decision making. Without guidance, young people may have trouble recognising and understanding their feelings. We all know life isn’t a straight line. There will be struggles, heartbreak, and disappointments. Children without counsel and the right tools are likely to find it harder to cope with negative emotions. We need to guide children on how to identify emotions and express them.
Where to start:
- Children do not usually have the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling. Try using the emotion wheel as a communication tool.
- Identify a trusted person for them to talk to. It can be you, a grandparent or even a school counsellor. Once you have identified someone, be sure to set up welcoming ways for them to communicate with the identified person.
- Start exposing them to stress management tools like journaling and meditation. Journaling will help young people explore their thoughts and feelings. Meanwhile, meditation encourages them to take time out to process the day and promote calmness.
Lesson 2: How to invest in physical health
Our minds and bodies are connected by more than a neck. How we feel physically has a huge impact on how we think. Your kids need to understand the deeper meaning of eating well and staying active. Firstly, food affects mood. Poor diets high in saturated fat and processed carbohydrates are linked to poorer mental health in young people. I have met many young people who have never thought about what they were eating or what a balanced portion looks like. The food pyramid is outdated. We must help young people understand the nutritional value and effects of ingredients in what they eat regularly. The second part of the equation is exercise and physical activity, which have countless health benefits in children. Physically active kids demonstrate improvements in mood, self-esteem, attention, and memory. Children should have a better understanding of the positive implications healthy bodies have on their mental state and cognitive capabilities.
Where to start:
- Leverage on free YouTube videos like this or get your family doctor to help with a few lessons on healthy living.
- Sign them up to classes that include physical education as part of the training.
- Get them to help out in the kitchen and show them how to cook nutritious meals. If you’re not a cook yourself, cooking classes are always a fun activity.
Lesson 3: Why building a support network is necessary
There is a reason why solitary confinement is used as a method of torture. Creating social relationships is central to human well-being. Lack of social support can lead to isolation and loneliness, the psychological effects of which can last for a long time. Having a community, good friends, or family to turn to in times of need help your kids deal with stressful decisions or situations. Furthermore, it adds meaning to our day and supports a positive self-image. Children need to learn to connect socially with others and understand how it contributes to their focus, happiness and quality of life.
Where to start:
- Family openness is a crucial place to start. Incorporate routines that encourage communication like sit down dinners and family board game nights
- Get them to practice social skills like non-verbal communication, empathy, and cooperation. You can do this through role-play, videos or books.
- Remind them that healthy relationships are about mutual respect and avoid people with toxic behaviours
Empower them with opportunities to connect with others and get more comfortable in social situations. Experiences like volunteer gigs or a course at Fire Tech would teach them to collaborate with others and build their confidence.
Lesson 4: How to live with purpose
There is a proverb that says “when you’re facing the right direction, all you need to do is keep walking.” Recognising purpose gives people motivation and clarity in their daily and long-term goals. It helps us make sense of who we are within this chaotic world and influences our overall well-being. For children, it makes them feel good about the future, which builds their resilience. Studies revealed that individuals reporting a higher meaning in life adopted positive behaviours which lowered the risk of loneliness and chronic diseases. There are many young people today who feel aimless, full of self-doubt and anxiety. Guiding your child on discovering what they find meaningful will ensure your child has a sense of validation so life feels worthwhile.
Where to start:
- Get them thinking about what matters to them by asking them bold questions.
- Help them identify passions and plan for their futures with the ‘Ikigai’ diagram.
- Sit together and set goals, so they have a clearer idea of what they are striving for
- Enable them to create something meaningful. At Fire Tech, we support our students to create tangible projects they can be proud of. They might just end up designing something that could change the world.
Lesson 5: Why education is never complete
Change is the law of life. Nothing stays the same and neither should our mastery. Intellectual wellness refers to active participation in scholastic, cultural, and community activities. It is important to gain and maintain intellectual wellness because it expands knowledge and skills to make the decisions needed to build a successful life. As children’s brains develop, it is important to engage them in a variety of intellectually stimulating activities. Being knowledgeable will help your kids become much more confident because they know they can make well-informed decisions. I encourage parents to find ways to stimulate curiosity and champion lifelong learning.
Where to start
- Watch Ted Talks together then discuss to reflect on the content.
- Remind them to practice the skills and talents they already have.
- Expose them to a variety of topics, discover new subjects together with trips to museums or explore the world of STEM at our live online workshops at Fire Tech Experiences.
About the writer:
Rose graduated with BA (Hons) in Media and Communication from Oxford Brookes University and MSc Innovation from the University of Bristol. She has been facilitating fun learning experiences for young people for about 7 years. She teaches a variety of programmes at Fire Tech including Virtual Work Experience. Connect with her here.