Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

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Did you know your brain makes over 220 decisions just on food during a day? Some sources say we make almost 35,000 decisions from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep. The choices we make guide where we go, what we do, how we behave, the habits we form, and much more.

Recently our Yancey 4-H team spent time working with middle-schoolers in the county. We’ve been teaching interactive lessons dealing with topics including stress management, substance misuse, professionalism, mental health, and yep, you guessed it–decision-making. Most of our interactions with the students went as expected, except for one. 

During one of the lessons, we played a game called Four Corners. Students were asked a series of questions and were responsible for choosing one of the following options: ‘I decide,’ ‘my parents decide,’ ‘we both decide,’ or ‘someone else helps.’ None of the responses surprised us until we got to the question, “who decides if I drink a beer?” 90-95% of the students we asked went straight to the corner titled “my parents decide.” 
middle school youth working on decision-making skillsWe extended the conversation by asking them if their mom or dad would be at school when a friend offered them a vape. After the new scenario, many changed their minds and ran to the “I choose” corner, but others stayed put. While the loyalty and respect of the expectations set by the adults in their lives are admirable, we found this to be alarming. Students had difficulty distinguishing a rule from an independent decision.

Billions of decisions create the foundation of our lives, therefore good decision-making skills are crucial. Do your kids know how to make an educated decision? Can they act quickly and make the right decisions while under pressure from their friends? Are you uncertain about how to begin these conversations with your youth? Family expectations, decision-making, and risky behavior situations are just a few topics we discuss during our Empowering Youth and Families Program offered through Yancey and Mitchell County 4-H. 

Who is this program for? EYFP is for middle-school youth and their families. Join us weekly at 5:30 for a delicious meal and opportunities to learn about important topics in a positive environment. New classes start Tuesday, March 22nd, at the Yancey Senior Center. It’s too late to join our spring classes in Mitchell County, but new ones will begin again in the fall. If you’re interested in the program or would like to learn more, contact Niki Maness, niki_maness@ncsu.edu, in Yancey County | (828) 682-6186, or Mitchell County | (828) 688-4811.