responsible decision making
Sep 13 2023

Responsible Decision Making: An Introductory Guide

Positive Action Staff
Every child should be able to make constructive choices. Keep reading to find out how children can increase their responsible decision-making skills.

Responsible decision-making is the fifth core competency taught in SEL.

We can define responsible decision-making as the ability to make choices that affect you positively in your physical, intellectual, social, and emotional bodies. Responsible decisions are based on social morals, ethics, and safety. They also involve awareness of the impact of your choice on yourself, your goals, relationships, and others around you.

More concisely, responsible decision-making means making responsible choices that benefit you and your community. Responsible decisions are socially and ethically appropriate and take into account the effects on others.

Why It’s Important to Make Responsible Decisions

Our youth make critical decisions every day. Each decision students make has consequences that can affect their entire lives.

Responsible decision-making isn’t just about avoiding negative consequences. SEL’s responsible decision-making model teaches students self-awareness and how to consider family and friends, their community, and their world.

It teaches them how to recognize and validate their emotions, as well as how to manage them appropriately. Responsible decision-making involves critical thinking and self-discipline. It also means knowing how to extrapolate the effects of that decision on others. This process helps students learn relationship skills, empathy, and how to communicate effectively.

This portfolio of decision-making skills that our students learn and practice when they are young will carry over into adulthood. It lays the foundation to affect their jobs, their relationships, and their lives as a whole.

That’s a lot of life skills, and teaching all of them may feel overwhelming. If you’re wondering how to teach decision-making, we have the tools you need right here.

Teaching Students to Make Responsible Decisions

Teaching social-emotional learning in classrooms has many positive effects. With more than two decades of research documenting the impact of the SEL curriculum on students’ lives and the global community, we see these programs positively affecting students long-term.

The Benefits of Responsible Decision-Making: What the Research Shows

Students who participated in SEL programs saw an increase of 11 percentile points in their academic performance. Up to 24% of those students improved their social behaviors, resulting in lower stress levels, and 22% fewer students had conduct problems.

The Positive Action program, in addition to SEL, can result in a: 62% reduction in violence, a 51% reduction in bullying, and a 46 – 73% reduction in the use of illicit substances. The program also saw a decrease in absenteeism, disciplinary referrals, and suspensions.

Scores in reading and math also improved, showing that positive decision-making has an impact both in and outside the classroom.

All of these benefits last beyond the school years and help reduce poverty and improve economic mobility.

The Responsible Decision-Making Model

At the center of teaching students how to make better choices is the responsible decision-making model. It shows five steps to making responsible decisions by providing this problem-solving, decision-making checklist:

  1. Identify the problem.
  2. Analyze the situation.
  3. Brainstorm solutions and solve the problem.
  4. Consider ethical responsibility.
  5. Evaluate and reflect.

These guidelines can help walk your students through the sometimes complicated process of making responsible decisions. Through the use of workbooks, discussions about decisions in popular media, role-playing, and decision-making exercises, your students will become open-minded and confident in their choices.

We’ve created the “Problem-Solving, Decision-Making Checklist” that your students can use as a guideline for any decision they must make. We also provide sample lessons for all grades from Pre-K through high school so you can see how our program works and how it can contribute to your students’ learning.

Next Steps

If you believe that social-emotional learning will benefit your students, talk to your fellow teachers and your school’s leadership about adopting Positive Action as part of your SEL program.

We created Positive Action to be modular so that schools can implement the program in phases. We recommend that you start with the lower grades and work up.

This feeder effect will ensure that students get the lasting impact of the SEL curriculum from a young age and carry it with them. It will also build support among students, parents, and teachers.

Feel free to reach out via chat, email, or call us at (800) 345-2974 to learn more about our programs.