We live in a world that teaches children they can have anything they want if they work hard enough. The truth is that some choices are mutually exclusive – by choosing one thing, you are automatically unable to get the other things. For example, if your children are only allowed one after school activity, choosing one means they cannot participate in others that may be available to them.
Why is this important as Christians? There are several reasons. If your children choose to spend time on their devices, they have chosen to not spend that time learning about God, serving others or doing other positive, productive things. Or if they choose to play on a ball team that plays on Sundays, they have opted to not worship God and fellowship with the Christians at their church. Ultimately, they can choose to reject God for their entire lives and shut themselves out of Heaven.
There are some fun ways to begin teaching your kids the principle of opportunity cost and the impact it can have on their lives.
- Creating alternate picture book stories. Read your children a picture book. After the first reading, have your children imagine the characters made different choices than in the original story. How might the story and the ending have changed by these different choices?
- Double playing a board game. This works best for board games with a particular end goal in mind and with only a couple of players (otherwise it can become too confusing). Each player has two game pieces instead of one. They make the play for the first piece, then immediately see what might have happened had they made a different roll or spin by playing the second piece. How did the game end differently for each of their game pieces?
- Creating a free time log and bucket list. First have your kids create a place where they can log how they spend their free time outside of school. (You may want to exclude homework, studying and tutoring as they aren’t really optional!) Then have them create a list of all of the things they like to do or more importantly would like to do. Often the things they would like to do the most are never done because they waste all of their free time with screens. Encourage them to keep the log and then look at their bucket list to see how much they are missing out on by the way they are spending their free time.
- Taking hikes with forks in the road. You’ll need to go online first and find places with trails that have options along the way. Depending upon the length of the trails, it may take more than one visit to compare and contrast the trails the different options provided. Discuss what you saw on one trail versus the other (Note: this means looking out for animal life, plants and other sights that may not have been seen on the other trail.)
Have fun with it, but make sure your children understand that some choices mean they will miss out on the other options. You don’t want to paralyze their decision making process, but do teach them to seriously consider what they may miss out on when making a particular choice.