Effective and ethical decision making – Part 2

This article will explore a seven step decision making process that parents and caregivers can use to model and teach youth.

Making decisions can be hard for both youth and adults. In the book “Parenting to Build Character In Your Teen,” authors Michael S. Josephson, Val J. Peter and Tom Dowd describe a seven step process for making decisions:

  1. Stop and think
    Sometimes wrong decisions are made on the fly. Take a minute and count to 10 or 100 before making a decision.
  2. Clarify goals
    We need to clarify our goals. Sometimes our needs and wants don’t help reach our long-term goals. 
  3. Determine facts
    Figure out what you know and what you need to know, then make sure you are using reliable sources.
  4. Develop options
    Make a list of options that will help you reach your goal. You may want to talk to someone you look up to, as well.
  5. Consider consequences
    – “Pillar-size” your options. Filter your choices through the six pillars of character to see if they break or go against the pillars.
    – Stakeholders
    – Think about the people affected by your decision will they be helped or hurt?
  6. Choose
    If you still aren’t clear of the choice to make, talk to someone you respect, follow the golden rule, think about if everyone knew your decision and ask yourself, “What would the most ethical person I know do?”
  7. Monitor and modify
    Assess the effects of your decision. If you are not seeing the results you anticipated, then you might want to make a new decision to change the situation.

Modeling and practicing these steps with your youth is a great way for them to learn the skill of decision making. Remember that decisions have either good or bad consequences, and ultimately we are responsible and need to be accountable for the choices we make.  

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

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.

Related article: "Effective and ethical decision making - Part 1"

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