How to improve decision making skills for kids

How to improve decision making skills for kids

Strong decision-making abilities are one of the most important life skills we need. They’re essential not just for success in school and work but also when it comes to feeling more confident and self-reliant. Here’s how to improve your child’s decision-making skills.


Related: Life skills for kids




What is decision-making?

Decision-making is the ability to make choices. It’s a cognitive process that involves weighing options, considering potential consequences, and making a choice. For some people, it comes naturally, but for many others, including kids, it can be fraught with hesitation and the fear of making the wrong choice. If your child has problems making decisions, the good news is there are several ways you can help them make informed and effective decisions.

Our favourite tips to help kids build decision-making skills

  • Allow kids to make age-appropriate decisions

  • Encourage critical thinking

  • Model good decision-making

  • Help them learn from mistakes

  • Discuss indecisiveness 

  • Provide them with support for decisions

  • Encourage goal setting

  • Teach your child to handle money properly

  • Teach kids about the consequences of their decisions

  • Encourage kids to take risks

When to start building decision-making skills

The earlier you start teaching kids about decision-making, the better. As adults, we make decisions every step of our day. These small choices reflect years of practice in choosing. Kids, especially young kids, have very few options, and so many don’t have the tools to approach decisions logically. This means the sooner you let children start making small decisions, the better they will become at considering options, weighing pros and cons, and making choices.


What are the benefits of decision making skills for kids?

There are many benefits to teaching kids how to make decisions. For a start when kids learn how to make good decisions, they feel more confident in their ability to handle challenges. This confidence can help them to succeed in all areas of their lives.


Decision-making also helps kids learn to take responsibility for the consequences of those decisions. This teaches them about the importance of making thoughtful choices and the impact their choices can have on themselves and others. What’s more when kids learn to think through their choices and consider the consequences, they are less likely to make impulsive decisions that they will regret later.


Common types of decision-makers

There are many different types of decision makers, but some of the most common include:

  • Analytical decision makers: These decision makers are typically very logical and process-oriented. They gather as much information as possible before making a decision, and they carefully weigh the pros and cons of each option.

  • Intuitive decision makers: These decision makers rely on their gut instinct to make decisions. They may not have all the information they need, but they are confident in their ability to make the right decision based on their intuition.

  • Charismatic decision makers: These decision makers are able to persuade others to follow their lead. They are often very good at presenting their ideas in a way that is both persuasive and inspiring.

  • Competitive decision makers: These decision makers are always looking for the best possible outcome. They are often willing to take risks in order to achieve their goals.

  • Risk-averse decision makers: These decision makers are more concerned with avoiding mistakes than with achieving success. They are often reluctant to take risks, even if the potential rewards are high.




Tips to help kids build healthy decision-making skills

Allow kids to make age-appropriate decisions

Letting your kids make decisions can be challenging, especially if you’re a busy and time-starved parent. It can help to allow kids to make a decision within a decision. For example, would you like an apple or banana as a snack? Do you want to do your homework now or in an hour? Shall we go swimming or to the park? Another way to improve decision-making is to give kids choices. This could involve choosing what to wear for the day to decide what to do before bed. The more choices kids have to make, the better they will become at it.


Encourage critical thinking

When your child can’t make a decision, don’t rush in to fix it. Encourage critical thinking by brainstorming solutions with them and encouraging them to weigh the pros and cons of each possible outcome. For example, they have £8 pocket money and want to go to the cinema with friends and buy new LEGO. They can’t afford both, so get them to think critically about which one to choose and why.


Model good decision-making

Talk about all your household decisions so they understand the thought process behind good decision-making. For example, this could include how much money you spend on groceries, how much to save for holidays, or whether to buy a new car. Or who does which chores, how often chores are done, or how to divide responsibilities fairly.

Related: How do chores teach life skills?


Help them learn from mistakes

When kids inevitably make the wrong decisions, help them to learn from them. For example, maybe you asked them to tidy their room, and they didn’t or said they had to come home by 6 pm and decided to come later. Learning from mistakes means discussing what went wrong, how they could have made a better decision and the consequences.


Discuss indecisiveness 

Several factors, such as a fear of failure and a lack of confidence, can cause difficulty in making decisions. What helps here is to give your child lots of small daily choices to make that help build their confidence in their decision-making abilities. For instance, which game to play, what TV show to watch, and what to have for dinner.


Provide them with support for decisions

Showing your kids how to make decisions is also vital. Don’t be afraid to talk through the process with them, showing them how to weigh pros and cons, consider potential consequences and take measured risks with what they decide to do.


Encourage goal setting

Help kids to see that goal setting can be a helpful tool for decision-making. By clarifying their values and priorities, identifying the options available to them and weighing the pros and cons of each option, they can make better decisions aligned with their goals.


Related: Goal setting for kids


Teach your child to handle money properly

One of the best ways to teach your child about money and give them financial decision-making skills is to give them opportunities to practise. This could involve anything from giving them an allowance to letting them participate in family budgeting discussions and doing chores to earn money.


Teach kids about the consequences of their decisions

Help kids understand that every decision has a consequence, sometimes positive and sometimes negative. This will help them to think about the long-term impact of their choices.


Encourage kids to take risks

With decisions, there is an element of risk, so encourage kids to take measured risks and try new things, even if they might not be successful. This will help them to develop their decision-making skills and learn from their experiences.


Decision-making activities and games for kids


Minecraft is an excellent game for teaching decision-making skills. The game's open-ended nature gives kids a lot of freedom, but it also means that they have to make many decisions. These decisions help players to develop their problem-solving, prioritisation, risk-taking, and creativity skills.

Related: Parents guide to Minecraft


Jenga can teach decision-making skills, as players need to assess the risk of removing a particular block. If they remove the wrong block, the tower could collapse. This teaches players to think about the consequences of their actions and make safe and strategic decisions.

Game of Life

The Game of Life can help with decision-making skills. It teaches players to think about the consequences of their actions. Players have to make choices about their education, careers, and relationships, which directly impact their outcome in the game. It also teaches players to take risks to achieve their goals. For example, if a player wants to start their own business, they will have to take a risk and invest their own money. If the business is successful, the player will be rewarded. However, the player could lose their investment if the business is unsuccessful. 

Decision-making tree

This more structured activity can help kids learn to think through the consequences of their decisions. You create a tree diagram with different branches representing different decisions. For example, you could create a decision tree for a child to decide whether to go to the park or stay home and read. The tree branches represent the different factors the child might consider, such as the weather, the time of day, and the child's mood.


This classic board game involves buying, selling, and trading property. Players decide which properties to buy, how much to charge rent, and when to trade properties. The outcome of the game depends on the choices they make.


Chess is a game that requires strategic thinking and problem-solving. It not only enhances cognitive abilities but also helps children develop their decision-making skills and improve their memory. 

How can GoHenry help?

GoHenry's mission is to make every kid smart with money. The debit card and app are packed with great features that help kids safely and securely learn about money, from saving to smart spending. In-app Money Missions make learning about money fun and engaging with videos and quizzes covering everything from saving to budgeting. Parents can set flexible parental controls in the GoHenry app, and receive real-time spending alerts whenever their kids  use their GoHenry kids’ prepaid debit card. You can also create savings goals and recurring pocket money payments.





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Written by Anita Naik Published Oct 17, 2023 ● 6 min. read