Friday, May 20, 2016

The Benefits to Offering Your Kids Choices

It can be hard in our every day life when we feel like so many things are beyond our control–personally it can make me feel nervous and uncomfortable; how am I supposed to know what to expect next? Now imagine being a two-year-old where you are told when to eat, what to wear, when to go outside, what to say, and when to go to bed. Of course they are going to struggle with this as they feel they have no say. Often they express their frustration through tantrums, screaming "No!" or running away from the situation.

One key thing to remember is to give them choices.

Our Infant Development Worker encouraged us to use this for our Little One and it has been so helpful– how did I not integrate this more frequently before? I don't mean "Put on your shoes or go to Time Out" I mean, "Do you want your brown boots or your sparkly shoes?" or "Do you want apple slices or yogurt?" I will hold the items in front of them to help them decide by combining visual and audio.  I use options on my bigger kids, too. "Do you want a shower now or at 6 pm?" The shower will happen on this day but they have some say in the matter.

What are five benefits to giving choices?

1. Brain development: They can problem solve and figure out what they would actually like and why. This will help them continue to make bigger decisions down the road. I wish I had practiced this more often with my boys because it makes me feel bad when they stress over a simple decision like what doughnut to order–let's be honest, there are so many great options.

2. Feeling of control: They feel like they are having a say in their lives and they do. An adult is trusting them to make the decision.

3. Accept consequences more readily:  If I choose the wrong entree at a restaurant, it's on me! I can't melt down because they forced me to eat something as I chose it on my own. Same with a child: If they pick the wrong shoe, that was their decision. Choose not to wear a coat and they get cold and the natural consequence will help teach them. This is only okay if the natural consequence is safe.

4. Less arguing/meltdowns: It doesn't feel like they are being told what to do so they get to feel like a big person making decision. I don't like people telling me what to do–who does? I also don't love a menu with what feels like 1,000 options and I'm much more comfortable with 10-20.  Presenting a simple choice can make it less overwhelming.

5. Increase independence: It makes them feel like they are able to do things on their own by making their own choices. If  there's one thing I know, it's that children love feeling older than they are.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you provide enough choices–if not, I'd encourage you to try it today.  I'd love to hear from you!

A simple way to help prevent meltdowns: offering choices!


  1. Denise N8:44 AM

    I try to offer choices as much as possible. I find it makes my day go much better. And ur reasons explain why perfectly.

  2. As a teacher, I think this is why kids so love centers and choice board activities. I remember as a kid not feeling like I had any control over my own life. So I understand where they are coming from. Anytime they feel they can have a bit of independence gives them a sense of self-control and growing up.

    1. Our Koen loves centers so much, it really works so well for his personality. Great example!

  3. This makes a lot of sense to me! We do offer a lot of choices - the kids have been dressing themselves since they were 2, and they always get choices for breakfast. Other things are just a given: this is what Mommy cooked for supper, and we're all going to sit down and eat it. You *can* choose to not eat it and be hungry, if you like. ;)

    1. Yes, not everything can be a choice, for sure!

  4. They tend to feel insecure if they have too many choices but choosing between two things is usually good for them it seems.

  5. Thanks for the reminder! More choices = more agreeable household!