Your teen needs to be mindful that life is full of choices, and sometimes there are hundreds or thousands of choices that one makes in one day.
For every choice, and every decision, there are risks and benefits. If your teen learns to be mindful, it is more likely that her state of mind and coping mechanisms will allow her to mature and flourish.
Here are 10 guidelines on decision-making. Some concepts are taught to medical students, so they learn how to avoid mistakes on patients:
- Recognize when you have formulated a problem, thought about solutions, and have made a decision to follow a plan. Know when you are making a choice.
- Accept that no one can forsee every problem before it occurs. Anesthesiologists, for example, must critically view each patient individually and practice something called vigilance: a state of being on the alert for problems or signs of danger.
- Know that true vigilance is not often needed, but if used during problematic times, one can obtain skills to make well thought-out choices and avoid potential problems. This is the whole concept of preventive medicine.
- Small signs can be the beginning of a bigger problem. Teens can learn this over time. For example, if one loses the car keys, it is best to immediately look for them, retrace steps and don’t give up until you find them.
- One goal in life is to avoid making a choice that will cause years of pain. Part of making good choices is to recognize the things in life that are precious and irreplaceable.
- Outside Counsel: Sometimes, it is hard for a parent to properly convey the last message. And sometimes, this kind of message contains more impact when coming from a respected ‘outsider.’ Life is rather funny, in this matter.
- Family: Optimally, we all need to take advice and listen to those who are closest to us and bear our burdens: that is usually our immediate family living with us, under the same roof.
- We Validate You: For teens without a traditional family, we acknowledge you. We want all teens to know this: You are your future. The same truths hold for all teens: do your best to make good decisions each step of each day, every minute; this is wisdom that even the “best” families can fail to ingrain in their children.
- Recognition: The truer the understanding of her body, the better a teen is armed to recognize when something is just not quite right. Thus, she is more likely to seek professional help and get proper medical care in a timely manner.
- Be vigilant. Many problems are best treated at the time they are known. We need to be mindful of potential complications and seek to avoid them, ahead of time. For example, if those car keys still aren’t discovered, it is probably best to tell parents first, before they discover it when they need the car. In doing this preventively, you are taking ownership of your responsibilities. Admitting that you lost the car keys is admirable and a sign of good character.
So we encourage the natural inclinations of youth to seek aptitude and self-sufficiency in health care, and will outline a gradual fashion to do this as it applies to health care.
Know that for you, teen of any background and age, nothing is impossible, and moving forward, you can learn to take charge of your life’s choices. Asking for help is something that we all do as a lifestyle habit.
References and Resources:
Brain Pickings: The Four Desires Driving all Human Behavior: Bertrand Russell’s Magnificent Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
Centers for Disease Control:Teens (Ages 12-19) – Diseases & Conditions
Centers for Disease Control:Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Kid’s Health: Medical Care and Your 13- to 18-Year Old (Available: click to listen)
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Additional Articles by Dr. Margaret Aranda
Enjoy the smiles. They’re all around you.