Decisions, decisions, decisions! From the moment we awake to the instant we fall asleep, we make thousands of decisions each day. Do I have to get out of bed or can I sleep some more? What will I eat for breakfast? What will I wear today? The list goes on and on!
Decision-making is important to healthy development. So much so, that both the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and the National Health Education Standards (NHES) identify decision-making as one of the key skills and competencies for healthy lifestyles.
How can you help kids build their capacity to be aware of decisions and steer them to make healthy choices? fit simplifies decision-making with the cue, “Think fit. Be fit!”
- Stop and think about your energy and mood. Are they a positive or negative influence?
- What are my options? What choices are best for my body and brain.
- Make a healthy choice.
- Reflect: How do I feel about my choice?
Empowering children with decision-making skills has several benefits. They experience the satisfaction and fulfillment of positive decisions and are equipped to make healthy decisions in the future. Of course, not all decisions are positive. Part of learning how to make thoughtful and healthy decisions is allowing children to make poor ones—thus giving them the opportunity to learn from the experience and make better decisions in the future.
Build awareness and practice decision-making in small doses. Begin by identifying times when people make health-related decisions such as mealtime, recess, downtime, etc. Next, identify a limited number of choices (two or three), especially for younger children. Later, expand to more options. For example, families can plan healthy meals together using MyPlate Meal Planner. The Bedtime Routine Planner guides choices to help establish healthy sleep habits.
At school, one of the best times to bring awareness to decision-making is during recess. Make a list of options for playground activities and recess games. Keep in mind that the best recess activities are those that offer kids opportunities for continuous play (versus standing around waiting for a turn), are physically and emotionally safe, and make moving fun!
So remember: Think fit. Be fit! Stop and think about your energy and mood, then make a healthy choice!