The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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February 10, 2014

It is important to talk to children about how to make good decisions

Teachable moments are everywhere.

Articles in the newspapers, television movies, and each and every school day. Bad things are going to happen. People make poor choices and adults set bad examples. How do you explain these moments to your children?

When an adult that children look up to acts inappropriately or makes a poor decision, then parents and teachers can use this as a teachable moment.

Talk with children about what happened and ask them what the adult should have done.

It is important that children learn how to make good decisions and sometimes a news article about a local or national incident can provide an example to use for discussion.

The arrest of a celebrity, the firing of a local teacher, or the suspension of a coach can all be subjects for a problem solving discussion.

Studies have shown that children who develop good problem solving skills will also build more resiliency skills that can help then throughout their lives.

Using a news article as a starting point, the parent or teacher can talk about the actions that were inappropriate and how the adult should have behaved.

Every day, life presents new lessons. Breaking news reports that someone overdosed on heroin, or that there was a shooting in a school, or a child is bullied.

Instead of brushing off your child’s questions about the incident, take the time to talk about it.

Start with the action or problem and the bad decision that occurred. Then ask your child what the right thing to do would have been.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics featured an article in Healthy Children Magazine that focused on the 7 C’s to help build resiliency in children.

Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping and Control are all developed through good problem solving techniques. Children build on their skills by discussing the problem and gain more confidence as they discover solutions.

Examining real world problems both locally and globally will help children learn that there might not be one right or perfect answer to a dilemma.

There may be social, economic or legal factors that cloud the issue or an emotional component that may sway a person’s judgment. Human error can also change the outcome.

Discussing current events also allows parents to reinforce their own family values. If the newspaper reports that the police to a party where there were teens drinking alcohol, it is a good opening for parents to talk to their own children about the dangers of alcohol.

The same is true when a friend or relative is stopped for driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The teachable moments also occur at sporting events when someone exhibits poor sportsmanship or a parent gets out of control and yells at the umpire or referee.

Maybe the teachable moment happens because your child asks why someone is bullied.

We all want to protect our children from the dangers, tragedies, and sadness in the world but by looking for the age appropriate teachable moments, we can slowly help them build up their confidence to deal with problems at every stage of their lives.

The more a child is able to develop strong problem solving skills, the more resilient he or she will be throughout life.

What will you discuss with your child today? Remember education and prevention are keys to keeping our children safe and drug-free.

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