News & Events

Giving Children Choices

By: Ms. Silvia Irene

Parents sometimes make decisions and then impose those decisions on their children. They want the best for their children and, they believe their choices are the best. However, everyone likes to have choices in the things they do. They forget that children need choices. There are some children who will just go along with whatever an adult tells them to do.

Giving children choices helps them feel like they have some power and control over what they do. It’s a step in growing up. Everything isn’t planned for them. Making good choices is a skill that children will use for the rest of their lives. The key to giving children choices is to first decide what choices you will allow them to make.

Good choices for children
A good way to start giving children choices is to select two or three things and let the child choose from them. Give only choices that you can agree to.
These choices are easy to allow children to make:

  • “Would you like to use crayons or paint today?”
  • “Would you like a peanut butter sandwich or a cheese sandwich?”

Here are six important benefits to building choices into children’s daily routine:

  1. Avoid tantrums
    Tantrums are often caused by a lack of control. Tantrums happen because of an underlying feeling of a lack of power. It is important to allow children to feel in control whenever possible in order to avoid tantrums.
  2. Build confidence
    Decision-making is an important aspect of building confidence. When children make a decision and it goes well, they are going to feel proud and this is going to help build confidence and continue to build positive decision-making skills through adolescence and adulthood.
  3. Cultivate a sense of value
    One of the most important aspects is making children feel valued. Children are often more creative and perceptive than adults. A child’s choice has as much value as an adult’s, and parents want to make sure that children know that parents recognize that and acknowledge the value that they add to the family. Recognizing their small choices is an easy way to empower children and acknowledge their worth.
  4. Teach responsibility
    Life is defined by the choices we make, and it’s important that parents equip children by teaching decision-making skills starting at a young age. By building small choices into the daily routine, parents are teaching children to be an active part of the decision-making process and allowing them to learn to manage both decisions and their outcomes (whether those outcomes are desired or not).
  5. Foster creativity
    When parents make every decision for children, parents don’t allow them the opportunity to use their creativity and develop abstract thinking. Parents want to foster children’s creative thinking rather than shutting it down by being authoritative.
  6. Develop problem-solving skills
    Not all decisions children make will have a positive outcome, and when a decision comes with an undesired response, they will learn to problem solve through the decision and make a better decision next time. If they decide to wear their favorite dress shoes to the muddy park and they get ruined, they will remember that the next time and make a different decision.

In conclusion, offering children choices is a way of offering them control over their lives without putting them at risk. While making such simple choices may seem insignificant to adults, choice conveys to children that their unique preferences are important, and can dramatically decrease the number of daily battles that must be fought. Giving children small choices teaches them that they have the ability and the responsibility to make larger choices in life, such as whether to follow or to break rules.

References:
The Pennsylvania State University. (2016). Giving children choices. Accessed 9 February 2022, from https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare/early-care/tip-pages/all/giving-children-choices

Dr. Allie Ticktin. (2018). 6 powerful benefits of giving your child a choice. Accessed 9 February 2022, from https://www.mother.ly/parenting/child/benefits-of-giving-child-choices/