How to Help Children Make Choices

Wonder how to help children make choices? Helping children make choices is an essential part of parenting and educating. It helps children learn how to think critically and make decisions on their own. Intentionally allowing children to make choices in their daily routines, teaches them how to make choices. It also develops their self confidence.

Strategies to Teach Decision Making Skills

Offer Limited Options
Giving children too many options can be overwhelming and make the decision-making process more challenging. Instead, offer a few choices that you believe are appropriate. For example, ask your child whether he wants to wear a red shirt or a blue one. Asking him to pick something from the whole wardrobe is overwhelming.

help children make choices in their daily routines to develop self confidence and teach them out to make choices

Provide Good, Positive Options
When you give children choices, be sure both options are good, positive ones. This way, no matter what the choice – the child is successful.  For example, you might want your child to eat fruit at snack time. So you ask: “Would you rather eat a banana or an apple?” Either option is fine.

Offering a child two positive choices help them feel empowered and successful in their decision-making. This approach can also help to avoid power struggles or negative emotions that may arise when a child feels forced to make a decision.

Instead of asking a child, “Do you want to take a bath now?” which could potentially result in a “no” response and a power struggle, offer two positive choices. Options could include “Would you like to take a bath before or after dinner?” The child still gets to make a choice, but both options lead to a positive outcome, and a more balanced power dynamic.

READ: Supporting Children in Managing their Emotions

Consider Developmentally Appropriate Decisions
While it’s essential to give children choices, the choices you offer must be developmentally appropriate. You may let a four-year-old choose between two types of cereal for breakfast, but you wouldn’t ask them to decide which high school they want to attend.

Explain the Consequences
It’s important to explain to your child the consequences of their choices, especially if they are making a decision that could have an impact on their safety or well-being. If your child wants to play outside in the rain, you could explain to him that his clothing could get very wet and then he would feel very cold.

Build Self Confidence Through Decision Making

Encourage Independent Thinking
Encourage your child to think for himself by asking him what he thinks feels about a particular situation. If you’re trying to decide which game to play, ask your child which one he thinks would be the most fun.

Don’t Make the Decisions for Them
While it can be tempting to make decisions for your child, give opportunities to make their own choices. This helps develop decision-making skills that will be useful later in life.

Be Patient
Be patient with your child when he is making a choice. Give him the time he needs to think it over and make a decision. Rushing or pressuring children to make a choice can lead to anxiety and confusion.

Praise Good Decision-Making
When your child makes a good choice, be sure to praise him for it. This reinforces positive behavior and encourages good choices in the future.

Would You Rather Game

To help explore decision-making, Experience Preschool curriculum includes a tool every month called Would Your Rather? 

To play this game you will need the Would You Rather Cards and some manipulatives. Select one of the Would Your Rather Questions and put down the corresponding picture cards. After you read aloud the question, each child makes his choice and puts a manipulatives on that picture. Count and compare which choice is most popular.

Try these methods for recording responses when playing Would you Rather:

  • Use photos of the children and a pocket chart to graph responses
  • Create a graph and each child adds a sticker, ink fingerprint or a make a mark in the column they choose

Would You Rather games address the following skills:

Would You Rather games enhance vocabulary and language skills as children discuss and explain their choices. Additionally, “Would You Rather” games can help preschoolers to develop their social skills, as they learn to take turns, listen to others, and express their opinions in a respectful way.

“Would You Rather” games can help develop a child’s logic skills. The game requires children to make decisions and choices based on their own reasoning and judgment. This encourages them to think critically and evaluate the pros and cons of each option, which can enhance their logical thinking abilities. Be sure to ask children questions and guide their choices based on the pros and cons to demonstrate how to use pros and cons to make a choice.

The options presented in “Would You Rather” games often require children to compare and contrast different characteristics, such as size, quantity, and quality. This can help them to develop their analytical skills and learn to identify patterns and similarities.

Finally, these games often involve a degree of problem-solving, as children may need to consider multiple factors when making a choice. This can help them to build their problem-solving skills and develop a logical approach to decision-making. Encourage children to try to explain their choices.

Save the Would You Rather cards month to month and build a big collection of photo cards and question prompts. Invent your own questions or even ask children to invent one.

Playing “Would You Rather?” with preschoolers can be a fun and interactive way to help them practice making choices and expressing their preferences. It also allows for open-ended discussion and encourages the children to think critically and explain their reasoning.

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