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Decision Paralysis in Children

I've been knee deep in decision paralysis for a while now. Then I thought about a student I encountered years ago and realized that children also struggle with indecision.

Year ago while working with a group of fourth graders, I observed a student as she tried to draw a horse. She erased her first few attempts, which looked fine to me. Then she went online to find the “right” horse to draw. This took her down the rabbit hole on a search for perfection and she never found it. She ended up not completing the project on time.

Children are naturally impulsive. The fear of making a decision or being judged is learned. Children are watching how we make decisions, bounce back from bad decisions, contemplate new decisions, and/or take action. They also listen to the feedback we give them when they do take a risk and decide if they should continue taking risks.

Here are 4 ways to help children who have difficulty making decisions:

  1. Reinforce that perfection is not the goal

  2. Model and reinforce that it’s okay to make mistakes

  3. Explain that there are areas of strength and areas for growth in everything that we do, and the failure to make a decision impedes our ability to grow.

  4. Help them understand that every decision - good or bad - will move them toward their purpose

Nadine Johnson


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