Health Ed Lesson: Decision Making


If you’re a high school health educator, you will love this lesson outline on Decision Making. Perfect for any class of students grades 9-12.

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Introducing the Topic: Decision Making

When teaching, I always try to start with an intro that explains what our topic for class is going to be. I’ve found that clearly and simply telling my students what we are going to learn about for the day helps them retain more.

So for a lesson on decision making I’d start it something like this:

Statement: “Everyday we make many decisions.  Each decision affects our life in some way, even small decisions.  Choosing not to make a decision is even a decision that affects our life.  It is important to look at what decisions we are making, what decisions we want to make, and what the consequences our decisions will have.  If we just let life happen and we don’t make decisions, then we are not developing ourselves.  Let’s look at some decisions that can affect our lives for good or bad.”

Here are a few things I like to bring up when introducing this topic:

  • While we may not realize it, we are making decisions CONSTANTLY.
  • Some decisions are less impactful than others. (ex. what to eat for breakfast, how to style our hair).
  • Other decisions can be much more influential on our lives (ex. who we spend time with, what we choose to do for our career)

Decisions Activity

After introducing the topic and a few key points about the importance of decision making, I give the kids a minute to think of their own examples.

Activity: Allow them to write in their notes 3 decisions that teens usually face that will have a good outcome and 3 that will have a bad outcome.

Once they have had a few minutes to think and write, take time to discuss as a class. You can have a few volunteers share examples of decisions with good outcomes and then switch and do the same for bad outcomes.

The Marshmallow Experiment

The decision activity is a great segue into talking about the lasting consequences of decisions. In order to teach more about this principle, I like to share about The Marshmallow Experiment.

Watch this clip about the marshmallow experiment.  

Statement: “The man who originally did this experiment was able to track the people for 20 years after the experiment.  He discovered that there were significant differences in the lives of the people who were able to wait for the second marshmallow.  They were more successful in their lives, careers, relationships, and just life in general.  They were willing to wait for the bigger payout that came from being patient and waiting.”  

Note: If your school allows you could do this same activity by passing out marshmallows and telling the students they will get a second one if they can wait until the end of class!

Activity: Following the video, have the teens in your group come up with some decisions that they can make that will have a payout later.  They also need to come up with what the payout is. Have them write 3 choices that have a payout later in life in their notes. 

Here are a few ideas: 

  • Exercising and eating healthy has a payout of good health, less disease and sickness, and you get to enjoy life.  
  • Saving money makes it so you have money for things that will help your life, like college or a car.
  • Having good friends can make it so you choose good things in life and stay away from harmful things, like drugs.
  • Staying away from harmful drugs and alcohol use can have a payout of you not getting addicted, being able to be in control of yourself, and having a better life.
  • Not participating in sexual activity as a teen can help prevent teen pregnancy, make it so you can choose what you do with your life, and help you have healthier relationships.
  • Getting good grades helps you get into college, get a better job that pays well, and helps you mature and have skills for a career.  

Planning for the Future

Now the students should be thinking more critically about their futures, and the long term effects of their decision making. However, you can take it a step further and help them make a game plan for success.

Statement: “Each decision we make has a consequence for good or bad and affects our lives.  We can let life pass us by or we can actively choose how we want our lives to be.  It is important to look at choices and think about how they will affect our life and then decide what is best for ourselves.  We get to create good things now and in our future by the decisions we make each day.  Let’s take some time to think about who we want to become.”

Activity: Have them write responses to these questions in their notes:

  • When you think about who you want to be in five years, what are some decisions that you can make now that will help you get there?
  • What are some possible decisions that will keep you from becoming who you want to be?

Invite the youth to be more attentive to the decisions they make so that they can reach their 5 year goal.

Ending statement:  “Take time to look at the decisions you are faced with and make choices that will help you feel good now and help you have a good future.  You get to decide for yourself what things you want to create in your life.  Actively decide to make a good life now and a good future by analyzing situations and deciding what choice will be best for you.”

Decision Making Worksheet

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