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Proactivity and Decision Making

“Learning to make good choices and understand consequences.”


  • Involve your child in more decision making. When possible present them with choices.  Decision making skills are learned. Choices increase your child’s sense of power and control and teaches them about logical consequences.


  • Allow all members of the family to help draft a family constitution, including consequences for misbehavior. When dispensing consequences, simply refer to the constitution.


  • Encourage your child to develop their wonderful leadership skills. Let your child “lead” for the day or part of the day. They can plan meals and cook- taking everyone’s dietary preferences into account or plan an outing to the park, to include activities, snacks, what to wear and how long to stay. Many leadership skills can be achieved through organizations such as SOAR or through service work in the community.


  • Encourage your child to continue using the APIE problem-solving strategy, they learned at camp. The APIE format is comprised of four parts:  Assess the problem, Plan solutions, Implement action plan, and Evaluate the outcome.


  • When evaluating a potential decision, run through the “best case”, “worst case” scenarios with your child. Often, talking about what could go wrong and planning accordingly, will insure that everything goes right in the long run!


  • Teach your child the art of negotiation. You are also teaching compromise at the same time. For example, if your child wants to have something or do something that you would rather them not have or do, but it really is not a big deal or dangerous, have them plead their case and outline their evidence. For example, if your child’s bedtime is 8pm and they want to stay up till 9pm, have them make a convincing case as to the validity of their need. You present your opposing views if any, with evidence if possible. If they can convince you, then, they can stay up under the agreed terms of the negotiation.


  • Proactivity means being able to self advocate. Be sure to include your child in the conversation each time an adult or group of adults are talking about his/her future. Keep your child informed of the decisions you are being asked to make on their behalf. For example, be sure to include your child in his/her IEP, meetings with the doctor, and any other meeting in which he/she is the subject.


  • Teach financial responsibility early and frequently. When you go to a store, give your child a set amount of money. Help the child make decisions regarding if they have enough money to buy what they want. Always give the option of being able to save the money and add it to any future money they may receive.


  • Introduce problem-solving vocabulary into your family discussions. Share your personal challenges and dilemmas and what strategies you have employed.  Present your child with examples of people facing problems, and have your child discuss or role-play action-oriented strategies for resolving these difficulties.


  • Have your child write down or discuss important decisions they have made, the strategies used to make the decisions, the results of those decisions, and whether or not the correct decision was made.


For more information or targeted strategies regarding your child’s specific strengths or challenges contact our Family Support Coordinator, Dr. Liz Simpson (Liz@soarnc.org).