It is by thinking about choices,
along with their alternatives and their consequences
that we come to own them.
Elementary age children are capable of gaining this type of ownership,
and of making many of the their most important decisions in advance!
Kids don’t make bad decisions intentionally or with malice.
They make thoughtless choices because they feel no ownership—and because
they are unprepared and have not anticipated the overwhelming tension and temptation of certain moments.
In short, they get blindsided by peer pressure.
Not thinking things through or taking responsibility for choices may explain why kids fail to make good decisions, but it does not fully explain why so many kids make so many really bad choices—the kind that reduces their chances for long and short term happiness and success.
What makes adolescents experiment with drugs, or shoplift or do something destructive just for the “fun” of it? Are they plotting and conniving little criminals—evil, black-hearted demons who are hell bent on getting into trouble and making their (and your) lives harder? Or are they making spur of the moment mistakes because they are blindsided by situations they never anticipated and by peer pressure they are completely unprepared for?
Could a little advance preparation, in the form of role-playing or “case studies” help them anticipate and be prepared for the tough moments when hormonal activity or the desire for acceptance is driving them to do something foolish? Could thinking through decisions before they are actually confronted give kids ownership of their choices?