A few weeks ago, I worked in Newcastle coaching a group of Year 8’s in decision making. Sound like a strange topic for a project covering emotional wellbeing and mental health? Maybe, but this is a really basic ‘life’ tool that isn’t always covered at school regardless of the fact we use our decision making skills every day throughout our lives. I wondered what teenagers thought of decision making and whether they were aware that a mindset of positivity can really change the way they make them. Here’s what they came up with:
Students agreed that when they make a decision, more often than not they like to talk about it with at least one other person. A problem shared is a problem halved. They said whether or not they took the advice offered to them by parents/teachers/peers didn’t matter; overall it made them feel a little better about tackling the situation at hand.
Logic vs Emotion
Most of the participants, in particular the boys, were very honest about the fact that they have in the past made decisions based on emotions over logic. Something we’re all a little guilty of! They decided that emotional decisions were made through feelings such as anger, jealousy, hyperactivity and depression; they told me these were the decisions they often looked back upon with regret. Again, I don’t think they’re alone! The year group told me that they believed logical decisions were made using facts, weighing up pros and cons and communicating with others and that these made for the best outcomes.
The Year 8’s told me that when making a decision it’s best to either involve other people (for example to seek advice) or to generally take other people’s feelings and/or opinions into account.
The participants believed that limiting thoughts were the ideas you hold about yourself that might limit your potential. For example, when you’re under the impression you’re bad at a particular subject or don’t get along with your teacher it can really hinder the types of decisions you make in regards to your studies. Their feedback to me on this topic was that you can change the way you think by replacing a negative thought with a more positive statement using the phrase ‘I could’. For example, ‘I could… try to find something I do like about attending the subjects I like least’ or ‘I could… keep reminding myself that this situation is temporary’.
The magic word I kept referring to and remind the students of! They agreed that when there are serious consequences to consider it is often the leading factor in making a decision really difficult. For example, in a couple of years time when they choose their GCSE subjects they will have to contemplate how their choice may affect their careers or options in the future. Quite a big decision!
One Final Thought
I really connected with this year group. They were really engaged, open and honest in their opinions. We had a great workshop and I hope that they learned something that will stick with them throughout their school careers and they all reach their full potential with a touch of PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) 😀