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Prevention Presents: Making Smart Decisions

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Making Smart Decisions
Deirdre Washington, M.Ed., OCPSI 
Manager, Prevention Education

“Believe it or not, I was your age once too!” I think anyone with children, especially adolescents or young adults, has said this a time or two. I can recall many conversations with friends, families and colleagues expressing no desire to return to my teen years. Kids today hardly know, if they do at all, what it meant to wait your turn for the phone, play outside, or rewind a tape. It seems cliché, but I didn’t know how good I had it back then. I wonder if this next generation will be able to look back and say the same the same thing?

Every young person is confronted with making decisions, good and bad, but for youth today this can be all consuming, and for some, just going to school creates anxiety unlike any experienced in generations before. Resisting the negative influence of peers can be challenging, especially in the era of social media. And peers are not the only thing challenging youth and their belief systems—the news, the internet, video games, and many TV programs all influence teens and the decisions they make.

You may wonder why teens make seemingly irrational decisions or don’t appear to think things through; however, barring the influences mentioned above, the truth might be as simple as their brains are not yet equipped to process decisions the same way an adult brain would. This doesn’t mean that teens will always make irrational decisions, but it does suggest that teens need guidance as their brains develop.

So how can we help young people make better decisions? Here are some key strategies to developing decision making and coping skills in young people:

  • Provide guidance-help them practice refusal skills and conflict resolution
  • Be a role model-practice self-talk techniques in front them to demonstrate problem solving
  • Take advantage of teachable moments-use everyday situations (tv shows, news articles,  local stories) and ask how they would handle them
  • Put the power in their hands-express your trust and belief in them. Let them know that they have what it takes to make positive choices

For more information about helping the young people in your life, contact Harbor Prevention at 419.475.4449. 


Additional Resources:






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Celebrate Kindness
Ashley Rodebaugh, M.A.
Prevention Education Specialist



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