This is a fabulous concept to incorporate into your parenting practice. It’s used in conjunction with explaining decision-making to your kids. I started using this with my girls when they were about 13 years old and regularly reinforced it all the way through the day they left home for college.
Here’s the premise. Kids and young adults have a tendency to focus only on the possible positive outcomes of a decision. In reality, there are a range of possible outcomes that extend from severely negative to neutral to very positive. If kids could just consider the various possible outcomes along this continuum, they have all of the inputs needed to make their own decision. In other words, if they could train themselves to briefly ask “what’s the worst thing that could happen if I ______”, they will have a more complete picture. In fact, I suggested to my girls that they consider the best thing, the most likely thing and the worst thing that could happen. Then make a decision.
I’ll use an example during the high school phase:
- Scenario: Your daughter is at a party and has been invited to leave with some friends. The one that’s driving was drinking alcohol at the party and your daughter know this.
- Best Thing That Can Happen: “I have a crush on one of the boys in the car and this might be an opportunity for him to get to know me and ask me out.”
- Worst Thing That Can Happen: “The driver could be the cause of an accident that kills or severely injures those of us in the car and the other cars involved.”
See my other blog posts on parenting here.