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How to Teach Kids Decision Making Skills (+ Activities)

Try to remember how many times you hesitate to make decisions, both important and ordinary ones. Well, if you certainly know what you want, you`re a lucky one. But most readers will say that they feel a little bit daunted. That’s a common problem for the majority of adults. And a lot of them will agree that they were not taught to make decisions in their childhood.

How Kids Who Make Good Decisions Thrive in Their Lives?

Too much time can be wasted waiting for the right moment, thinking over the proposal, and finding one`s destination. By the way, those are very common excuses for the fear of making decisions oneself. In turn, people able to think rationally can reach their goals.
The decision making process is not only about saying yes or no. It involves evaluating pros and cons, defining one`s genuine desires and needs, and processing it all together. No wonder, it seems so difficult when you need to give up something so homish and accept an absolutely new situation.
You’d better pay due attention to this issue when raising your kid. You can save his efforts and mental health if you teach him the basics of making the right decisions.

Decision-Making for Kids of Different Ages

Dr. Tilmann Betsch, a researcher from the University of Erfurt in Germany explored the way kids make decisions. He revealed that it’s not common for preschoolers and elementary school children to rely on probabilities. Instead, they rely on their experience. Children can analyze different sources of information but only in deterministic decision environments. The more they grow older, the more they value the probabilities approach. That inclines that parents should use age-appropriate decision-making games to teach kids to think independently.

Games for Preschoolers

Musical Chairs

Gather kids together and place chairs around the room.
Turn on the music and let the children dance to it or just run around the room.
Kids should find a chair to sit on when the music is over. There should be one less chair than children
The kid who is not quick enough to find the place is out of the game.
In such a way, children learn to find the solution quickly and choose among several options in a very short time.

Noughts and Crosses

This simple game teaches kids to think strategically, several steps ahead. The task is to get a row of three quicker than your rival. You should not only focus on your row but also prevent the opponent from getting it first. Many kids like this game because it seems so simple. At th same time it makes them think and predict the situation.

Bird or Fish

Show kids two cards with a bird and a fish. Ask them whether they would like to be a bird or a fish. Let them explain their answer. This game develops imagination and teaches kids to find reasoning for their decisions.
You can use any picture:

  • Animals;
  • Personalities;
  • Objects;
  • Plants, etc.

Keep a box with such cards and play it from time to time. Based on the cards, ask little ones such questions as

  • Would you rather be smart or strong?
  • Who would you like to be a pilot or a sports car driver?

Also, you may come up with philosophic questions such as:

  • Would you rather be an unhappy rich person or a happy poor one?
  • Would you rather have a big family or live alone?
  • Would you rather be an elder or younger brother/sister?, etc.

Take a Stick

This game requires concentration and lots of sticks. Hold them upright in your fist and then let them fall. The task is to collect as many sticks as possible taking turns. The aim is to take a stick without moving another one. The trick is that those sticks that lay one on top of the other. So that is quite a challenge.
Children are put into a condition where they should think about the strategy and predict the results. That`s a kind of game to raise kids who make good decisions and stay patient.


A nice intellectual game that is quite suitable for preschoolers. Kids are supposed to decide which piece is suitable and which one to use among others if there are several options. Many girls and boys like it because it’s so exciting. They may ask you to play more than once.

Making Wise Choices Activities for Schoolchildren

Deserted Island

Ask kids to imagine that they are on a deserted island. Actually, the whole case is about decision-making. You can ask numerous questions about their life in the wilderness. The first, obvious one is “What three things would you take with you to a deserted island?”. There is no correct answer, so children have an opportunity to think it through.
Ask children where they would sleep, what they would eat, and how they would try to get home. The idea of a deserted island will appeal to strong-willed children, who tend to find an opportunity to reveal their out-of-the-box thinking patterns.


This activity is for Lego lovers. A parent gives a kid two possible options and the child makes either of them come true. For example, you can tell him: build me an airport or a police station. A kid should build either of these two options using his lego bricks. No schemes are available. A little one should find a solution to build the building required. The range of options is unlimited. It could be:

  • farm;
  • hospital;
  • mall;
  • school;
  • the whole city, etc.


Monopoly is a thing for future businessmen and businesswomen. Among smart decision making games for kids, this one is truly educational.
The monopoly game boosts:

Useful Activities to Develop Decision Making Skills in Children

Develop mindfulness. The rush distracts us from making the right decisions. A kid may also succumb to impulsive thoughts. To avoid it, teach him to evaluate the pros and cons as well as hear his inner voice instead of dozens of people around.
Developing mindfulness is part of teaching kids about safety, i.e. the ability to predict situations ans react appropriately.
Involve children in budgeting decisions. First, it makes them feel self-aware because you trust them. Second, children learn to value money and understand price ranges. Subsequently, there will be fewer worthless purchases in their teens and adult life.
Teach kids to listen. A lot of people reject their close ones’ opinions. Sometimes it makes sense but a kid may also miss valuable advice. So, it can be helpful from time to time.
Let them choose their wardrobe. Parents always think they know better what clothes their kids should wear. That’s true but you ought to control only the quality of it. Let the style be up to your little one. Let him make age-appropriate decisions. When he is a toddler, let him choose the colors. Preschoolers can have more rights as well as elementary school kids.
Define responsible decision making activities your child may come up with and let him do them. It can be the choice of products for meals or the wallpaper for the kids` room.


Decisions are everyday routine. One should deal with it in a way that saves time and brings awaited results. That’s how it ought to work. Pay attention to your kids` decision-making skills and alter them. Whatever it is, you make a significant investment in the future of your children.

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