In a world of never-ending options somehow we have to teach our children how to be decisive. Even us adults seem to get caught in the paralysis by analysis dilemma when it comes to decisions nowadays. But when I started my career as an author, it all finally clicked in my head. We constantly live afraid of being wrong. We are programmed to believe that being wrong means we are a failure. As adults we overanalyze, and as children, we refuse to choose. It has become part of society, and it paralyzes us.
Once I took the plunge into the literary world, I realized that the only hard part was that first step. Afterward, it might be scary but it also liberating. I try to teach this to my boys and the kids I coach. Yesterday while coaching basketball, yes I am coaching basketball now, one of my boys kept getting extremely frustrated every time he made a mistake. He is a sweet kid, very athletic and has lots of talent. I could see as the practice wore on that he was less and less active in the drills. I kept encouraging him but the battle was internal, and he was becoming harder to reach.
After we had finished practice, I called him aside and talked to him for a little bit. His hair was a total mess because every time he got frustrated he would run his hands through his hair. I told him: “In sports, you are going to make a lot of mistakes and fail many times, but you can’t get upset or frustrated. What matters is not that you failed but what you do afterward to fix it.” He nodded in agreement and headed out; I hope he got the message.
It is important to break the cycle of paralysis by analysis for our kids. If the worst thing that can happen is that they are wrong or make a mistake, they should be jumping at making the decision instead of triple guessing themselves. So how do we do that?
Even though it can drive me insane sometimes, giving the option to make choices to my boys is important. Even if that choice is simple, like what we are eating, what we are watching, or what we are playing. The hard part is not overriding their decision because I don’t like it. I will admit I don’t always keep my mouth shut, but I need to. If they are afraid I am going to override them each time they decide something, they will never be decisive. It is a process, but one that we must go through as parents with our kids. Teach them that it is ok to decide, that it is ok to be wrong and that the world doesn’t end if we make a poor decision. What matters is that we make the decisions, stand by them, accept when we are wrong and fix things when we make bad choices.