Giving Your Child Choices
Parents need to give their children age-appropriate choices, even if they’re at their early stages of life. There are a plethora of reasons to do this.
- Choices help children learn responsibility.
- Children feel capable when they make choices, which help develop their self-esteem.
- Children can develop decision-making and problem-solving skills by making choices.
- Practicing these skills at a young age will help children efficiently handle more difficult choices with more complex outcomes later in life.
The following guidelines can help you give your kid choices in the right way.
Begin With Simple and Fewer Choices
If you push your kids to make big decisions or all kinds of decisions right away, it’ll overwhelm them. You need to give guidance and structure to them, so you should start small. For younger children, you should give simple choices with just two options. For example, you can try these: should we play outside or complete an art project? Do you want to wear a black shirt or a white shirt? Do you want French toast or cereal for breakfast? Should we read a book or watch a movie together? Your kid will feel confident, competent, and responsible by making these decisions and get prepared for adulthood.
Appreciate Your Kid’s Efforts
You should praise or acknowledge your kid’s effort after he/she makes a choice to promote the behavior. Being specific is the most powerful praise, so you may say, “It was great to have cereal for breakfast. It was yummy!” Your kid will feel responsible, competent, and proud by hearing these comments, which will help develop their self-esteem. It’ll also help the child understand that they like to take responsibility and make decisions.
Parents need to maintain consistency in what they allow their kids to decide when giving them choices. For instance, if you allow your kids to choose what to do in their free time one day and won’t allow them to choose it the next day, it’ll likely make them puzzled and frustrated. They may then try to disagree with the option you’ve chosen or behave stubbornly. Therefore, it’s vital to remain consistent. You should make a list of decisions you want to allow your kids to make regularly and maintain that list.
Regardless of your kid’s age, you should start offering them simple choices to help the child become confident and responsible. A young kid can generally manage decisions such as what snack or toy to purchase, which toy to play with, what to wear, what to eat, what movie to watch, where to go for a day out, which activity to do, which book to borrow from the library, which gift to buy for a relative or friend, what they want to do in the late evening, among others. Just be sure not to lose consistency in the decisions you let your kids make, and thank or praise them for the choices. Their sense of responsibility and self-esteem should start to develop soon.