Decision-Making Activities for Teens

Students can work in groups to weigh possible outcomes of a scenario.
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Helping teenagers think through situations instead of rushing to poor solutions can be the difference between a troubled or successful future. Although the brain reaches its normal size between ages 12 and 14, it doesn't fully develop until around the early 20s. This lack of development often leads to reckless decision-making in the teenage years. Scenarios for teenage decision making include cooperative and individual activities to help teenagers learn to weigh the consequences of their choices and see the effects those decisions have on others.

1 Teenage Decision Making Activities

The small daily decisions teenagers make can often reveal valuable information about their values and priorities. In these teenage decision making activities, have students to think back over the previous day and make a list of all the decisions they made. They may have chosen to hit the snooze button rather than get up, study for a test instead of eating lunch or not do the assigned reading for an afternoon class. Ask them to look at each decision and consider what their choices reveal about what's important to them. Have them write a reflective paragraph in which they consider the potential and obvious results.

2 ICED, ICED, Baby

ICED is an acronym that spells out the steps in the decision making process: Identifying the problem, Creating alternatives, Evaluating the alternatives and Deciding on the best solution. Type up several fictional scenarios for teenage decision making with positive and negative outcomes. Examples might include deciding whether to tell an adult about a friend's drug use, shoplift a T-shirt they can't afford or plagiarizing a paper. Students can discuss these dilemmas in groups working through the potential consequences to find a solution or better decision to make. Each group can then share their scenario and how they used the ICED process to reach their final decisions.

3 Dramatizing Teen Decisions

Role-playing different outcomes of a decision can let students experience how choices affect other people. Create a fictional scenario involving a big decision and write four different outcomes on slips of paper. After reading the scenario story to the class, have students work in groups to randomly select one outcome and put together a skit showing what happens. Once all the groups have performed their skits, discuss which of the outcomes was the best solution, which was the poorest choice and how these decisions affected everyone involved.

4 Planning for Future Goals

Shaping a positive goal for the future can give students incentive to make good decisions in the present. In this exercise, adults ask teens to make a list of school subjects, activities and hobbies they enjoy and then list one potential career that aligns with each item on the list. Students then read over their lists and choose one career they would each like to have someday. Have them list the skills and special training they'd need to hold these jobs. Then, they can make action plans of how they might achieve this career in these decision making activities for youth that get them thinking about how the choices they're currently making could keep them from their goals.

Kori Morgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional writing and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and has been crafting online and print educational materials since 2006. She taught creative writing and composition at West Virginia University and the University of Akron and her fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals.