The older your child gets, the more he will be faced with making choices. And, as we all know well, this will never go away. As parents, we can start preparing our kids to make choices from a young age so that making choices is less overwhelming as they grow older.
The biggest thing you can to do prepare and teach your young child to make choices is by giving her opportunities to do so.
Be intentional about giving your child choices.
Tips for giving your toddler or preschooler choices
Limit the choices
Have you ever gotten overwhelmed by too many options? Imagine being a three year old that wants everything. Our job is to help our kids learn the art of making choices, it’s not to overwhelm them by giving too many options.
Keep the choices to two things like blue shirt or red shirt? This will exercise choice-making without overwhelming your child.
As your child gets older, you can add in choices but I suggest starting with just two choices and then you can add in a third. My son is three and I will give him three choices at times. But, again, keep it simple!
Avoid open-ended choices
If you ask a four year old, “what do you want to do today” or “what do you want for dinner”, you will likely get a whole lot of answers, many that you can’t make happen or won’t because ice cream for dinner is usually not an option.
So, again, you want to offer some options from which they can choose. Otherwise, you are just inviting a meltdown and you are teaching your child that his desires don’t matter or that you’re just going to do what you want anyway.
We know, as adults, this is not the case but a preschooler doesn’t understand why you won’t let him go to Paris today (an actual request my son has made!).
There is nothing more frustrating than a toddler that wants a banana then cries when you give him one because he wants an apple. Except for being a toddler that can’t decide if he wants a banana or an apple!
I am often overwhelmed by my son’s constant changing of his mind and I have to regularly remind myself that making decisions is hard - choosing one of your many favorite foods is not easy to do at three years old. Let’s be real, sometimes I can’t choose between my favorite foods.
If I get frustrated with my son because he doesn’t know if he wants a peanut butter sandwich or a quesadilla, it’s only going to make matters worse.
Be patient with your child.
Acknowledge your child’s feelings
When my son has a hard time making a decision, I always acknowledge that I understand it’s difficult to decide.
Walk your child through the decision making process
If your toddler or preschooler is having a difficult time making choices, walk her through the process instead of getting frustrated. Talk about the choices and offer solutions that will make deciding easier - you can have this now and we’ll have that later.
This post is part of the 31 Days of Kindergarten Readiness series. Catch up on the series here!
About the Author
Hi! I'm Inez, the owner and content creator of For the Love of Mom, a website dedicated to helping moms thrive in motherhood by offering helpful advice, tips and resources.