Judgment is the psychological ability to think critically about life experiences. After evaluating events, encounters and other bits of information, we use our judgment to draw conclusions. Good judgment leads to conclusions that encourage continued growth and overall well-being. Questionable judgment skills can lead us into dangerous or unhealthy situations that stunt our ability to live fully.
Parents can help their children develop strong critical thinking skills and a positive frame of mind. These qualities will lead to good judgments that contribute to success in most areas of life.
Five Ways to Foster Good Judgment Skills
Include these techniques in your family’s routine to improve your child’s ability to make good decisions.
- Establish core family values. The values you display will be your child’s reference point in their own decision-making process. What is important to you as a family? What qualities and skills do you want your children to have? Use family meeting time to create a document that lists the issues, beliefs and goals that all members unite around.
- Give them some control. Allow younger children to choose their own outfit. Work with older kids to create a schedule for homework, afterschool activities and other duties. Guide their decisions and help identify circumstances that lead to the best possible outcome.
- Remind them of the consequences. Any decisions a child makes that violates your family’s rules should have corresponding consequences. Your child may be allowed to choose what time they complete a specific chore, but if they fail to get it done, they won’t be able to play video games after dinner.
- Encourage your child to reflect on their experience. When your child brings home a report card with low grades, ask them what they think went wrong. Talk about things they could have done differently. Help them formulate a plan to make the problem less likely to happen again.
- Show them your decision-making process. Narrate your day to younger children. Talk about how you fold laundry, balance your checkbook, or fulfill your other daily duties. Plan the menu for a family picnic with your teenager’s assistance. Give them a first-hand understanding of how everyday decisions are made.
Peer Pressure and Judgment
The urge to conform to group standards is an evolutionary impulse. Today, this tendency doesn’t always lead us down the right path.
Children as young as three are influenced by peer pressure. Their natural need to be accepted by a group may contribute to decisions with negative impacts. This behavior is more common in the teen years when young adults are trying to establish their own identities.
High self-esteem reduces the chances your child will give in to peer pressure. When your child makes a good decision, praise them openly. Your opinion of them forms an integral part of their own self-identity.
Your child’s judgment skills are a big part of any potential success they might achieve in life. Give them the tools to choose the right path, even when you aren’t there to guide them.
Anthony Cupo is a Trained Mindfulness Facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC and has been meditating for over 30 years.