ion, the first step is to Identify Your Choices – last month we learned that people who tend to rely on their Lizard Brain often act as if they have only one option. People who use thinking skills realize they have many choices. When you learn to identify all your choices, you send signals to your Wizard Brain for analysis, and it uses the banks of information it has stored.

Understanding and accepting responsibility of our decisions requires that we also Consider the Consequences of our choices. When examining our choices, we must consider consequences now, consequences later, and consequences affecting others.

The first seven Wise Ways have laid the groundwork for this success. We often tell children to consider the consequences of their actions but we do not teach them how to do this. It is an advanced level of thinking for children. Through learning about consequences, kids will understand that a choice that may not seem as good now can look better later. As an adult, we certainly know this life lesson. Sometimes the tougher choice is the best choice and it does not necessarily feel good until sometime in the future.

Only when we pause from impulsive behavior, a complex process that involves the previous Wise Ways, can we consider the consequences of our choices and the impact that our choices have on others. With tools that help us STOP and THINK, we can consider that what may seem like a good choice now, might not be in our best interest later.

To help young people discover that they are responsible for their choices, we should not tell them, “That’s a bad choice,” but instead we teach them how to assess the consequences and decide for themselves whether a choice will bring a good result. We do this because when kids recognize that they have more than one choice, it sets in motion a series of thinking processes in their brain. It takes into consideration the present as well as the future and the impact their choices have on other people. Kids think in the here and now – they rarely consider the consequences of the future.

It is important to emphasize the immediate and long-term consequences of actions. The part of the brain responsible for future thinking (the Wizard Brain) is still developing. If you talk about how your child’s actions influence both the present and the future, you can help the healthy development of your child’s prefrontal cortex.

For more information on Engaging Families and the BrainWise program, email