Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Giving children choices

Giving children choices can have its benefits and its disadvantages

I like to give my daughter choices. I feel it is important that she has the chance to make decisions for herself and that as a result she feels confident to do so. I have however, seen how giving children too many choices, leading to behavioural issues. So just how can we give our child choices without giving too many?

Giving choices allows us to feel included, empowered and in control. There are always situations where a choice is no an option, such as putting on a sunhat and suncream to go out on the beach on a hot day. But giving limited choices to a child, such as what toy to play with or what cereal to have for breakfast, can help them get a chance to understand that they have a voice!

It is also good to find out why your child made that choice. My daughter hasn't quite got to the point to explaining her choices as to yet aside from the fact she likes them (everything is her favourite at the moment!!) So, to encourage her, I have started making choices in front of her too. For example, at breakfast when she chooses toast, I will say why I have chosen cereal "Because it is crunchy" or "it makes me happy!". This will help her to build the vocabulary she needs to start to make sense of her reasons why she chooses things.

If however, you give a child too many choices, things can backfire. There is no point giving a toddler more than 2 choices, as it can often lead to a meltdown. There are times when your child may have chosen something and circumstances change. Like this morning, my daughter had chosen a top to wear to preschool the night before, but as the weather is very cold outside, I told her she needed to wear a warmer jumper out there. This caused a few issues with an already tired little girl, but I had to stand firm.

Choices also need to be made without an adults help too. A child needs to understand how to make decisions without the support of an adult, by playing by themselves. That is why offering a range of toys can help, as long as there is not too many as that can be quite overwhelming! It does depend on the child's temperament too. One child can find a room full of toys amazing and another can find it all too much!!

How many choices do you give your child????

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