Shared Decision Making is a topic I explore with parents often. This is the concept of allowing your child to be in on the conversations about things that directly effect them. A seat at the table so to speak. This can be a controversial topic for some. However, it has been my experience in working with children and families that if it is embraced, positive change is soon to follow.
Children with social, emotional, and/or behavioral issues have a lot going on for them. Things may be difficult at home, at school, or in both places. Take a minute to imagine how hard that must be. Put aside the inconveniences to your life, or any frustration you feel for a moment. Imagine, or maybe you know, what it is like to not feel like you can handle your life. How scary it must be for a child who is unable to reason and make accurate cause and effect connections. Now on top of it all, add the feeling of uncertainty. Not being sure what is expected of you. Not feeling like you have the tools you need to achieve what is expected of you. Basically, feeling like you are out of control.
While all of this is happening, adults are congregating to meet and talk about the plan that will help get this child back on track. Often times this plan is well intentioned, but most times the child’s input does not weigh heavily on the decision making process. So, it’s no wonder then that often times, many plans need to be put in place before something works. And inadvertently it is the child’s feedback (lack of change, increased behavioral or emotional issues, etc) that lets us know that the plan is not working. So why not directly involve them to begin with?
Dr. Ross Greene, has coined the phrase “Kids Do Well if They Can”. How true is that? Think about it. What kid wants to do poorly? Watch this video by Dr. Greene to get an idea for the philosophy that drives my shared decision making model.
All in all, shared decision making helps to anchor the child. It gives them more control. It allows them to be a part of the conversation about the things that will play a role in how their life turns out.
In this series, we’ll take a closer look at five ways shared decision making can improve your child’s well-being.
- Self Esteem.– Shared decision making in my experienced has helped children to feel good about themselves.
- Maturity.- Shared decision making allows the child to cultivate a certain way of approaching problems. Hearing adult perspective and reasoning can help the child make some of these connections, too.
- Self Efficacy.- The child will start to feel like they can do positive things. So, they will.
- Accountability.- The child is given the opportunity to understand what is happening and what is expected of them. So, they can take greater responsibility for what happens.
- Strengthen Parent/Child Relationship.- Parents feel closer to their child when they think of them as a partner. And, Vice Versa! This closeness also known as “Attachment” plays a central role in a child’s ability to overcome adversity. Don’t worry! There are still ways to maintain your stance as a parent. More on this later.
More on all of this next week!