The article attached below explores how having a plan X can support kids in making positive choices, especially related to drug use and peer pressure. Many of our kids suffer from social anxiety. That is that they become overwhelmed with peer pressure even in situations that seem benign to others. For example, some have trouble making decisions about where to go to eat, so they turn down offers that might require them to choose.
Plan x is essential a no questions asked bail out by parents. This model is incredibly effective for dangerous choices such as drug use or reckless teenage behavior. However, when we focus on more day-to-day anxiety such as making social plans or choosing school courses, a plan X only reinforces our kids’ anxiety. I am in no way insinuating that having a plan X is hurtful. It is incredibly positive for safety oriented situation. What I am proposing is that maybe we need to have a plan X and a choice plan. Can we come up with a plan to help our kids make simple choices?
An example, might be that many children are overwhelmed with choices in getting ready for school. Maybe we could brainstorm with them to create a hierarchy like below:
- What meets school dress code?
- How warm/cold is it?
- Should I consider layers in case of changing temperatures or locations throughout my day?
- Do I need to be comfortable for activity?
- What is my favorite of the few items left?
If your child struggles with decision-making in many areas, maybe you can brain storm some elements that should always help to narrow options:
- What is safe?
- What is healthy?
- Does it hurt to just try one? Can I change my mind later and try the other?
- What is the worst possible outcome of each, and how likely is it?
- Do I like all the options evenly? If so, do I have a way to choose (rock, paper, scissors; eenie meenie miney moe; flip a coin; etc.)
This concepts will change from child to child and age to age. As the child encounters new situations they may need to a rapt and modify these models, but once we help them create a plan they have a basic template that they can modify. Often children are overwhelmed because they don’t know where to begin. Those of us who do not become overwhelmed by every day decisions often use a model similar too these instinctively. As a parent of a child with anxiety, helping them brainstorm and write a plan is teaching them to use the same skills everyone else uses like it’s a math lesson.
Share your plans and processes below to help others brainstorm with their children!