Effective and ethical decision making – Part 1

Explore strategies to help youth make effective and ethical decisions that can help them achieve their goals in life.

Making a decision is all about choices. All of the actions, decisions and attitudes we might have reflect choices. According to the book “Parenting to Build Character in your Teen,” there are two core principles that are the foundation for good decision making:

  1. We all have the power to decide what to say and how we say it.
  2. We are morally responsible for the consequences of our choices.

When making decisions and choices, youth need to understand how a decision affects others. The potential consequences from decisions that affect themselves and others need to be always on their mind. Stakeholders are the people who can be affected by good or bad decisions and choices we make. Helping youth understand who their stakeholders are and thinking about them before they make decisions may help them make the good choices and effective decisions.

It is important as parents and caregivers to also help youth and teens take choices seriously. There are some choices that we really do think about before we do them, and sometimes teen may have a “not a big deal” attitude, but we need them to understand how many choices effect their long- or short-term goals.

Reflection on the decision at hand is important before a choice is made. Helping youth reflect on the following four questions will also help them to explore how important the decision is and maybe more time is needed for careful decision making:

  1. Is there possible danger or physical harm to me or anyone else?
  2. Could I or someone else suffer serious emotional pain?
  3. Could the decision hurt my reputation, undermine my credibility, or damage important relationships?
  4. Could the decision impede the achievement of any important goal?

Youth should use the Six Pillars of Character as a guide when making effective and ethical decisions. The Six Pillars of Character  includes “trustworthiness,” “respect,” “responsibility,” “fairness,” “caring” and “citizenship.” These six pillars are part of the framework “Character Counts!” created by the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

The next article in this series will explore together the seven steps of the decision making process.

Decision making is an important life skill for youth to gain. Michigan 4-H Youth Development Programs help youth develop this life skill through their 4-H projects and experiences. 4-H provides opportunities for youth to strengthen their decision making skills through, exhibiting projects, leading groups, participating in events and so much more.

See "Effective and ethical decision making - Part 2"

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