How to get your kid to make (smart) choices?

In a world where parents tend to make choices for their kids, it is also very important to encourage your children to learn how to make decisions themselves. When kids make age-appropriate and independent choices, this will start teaching your kids about making choices and seeing the consequences of these choices.

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Ok, and now?

For this activity you will need your child and a couple of minutes dispersed over a week. The first part of the excercise consists of asking your child about choices they want to make.

Step 1: You could ask your child:
Do you want to go to the playground or do you want to stay home?
or
Do you want to sing a song or read a story together?.

It is important to make choices based on what your child will understand and even more importantly, that you follow up on your questions. So after you have gone to the playground with you kid, you could propose to play the "what if" game.

The "what if" game is played by parents and their kids and it means that a parent asks what if..... and inserts the choice a kid made.

Step 2: You could ask your child:
What if... We took a different route to the playground?
or
What if... You hadn't played on the swings?

This is an easy and short game you can play with your kids whenever you want. While you waiting on the bus, going to school or during dinner.

Step 3: You could ask your kid:
Why did you choose to go to the playground?
or
Would you make another choice next time? and why?

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And how do I do this?

This activity is perfect for those empty moments everyone will have during a day. Play the "what if" game with your kid when you are in the car or over breakfast, or ask other questions regarding the choices they made when they come home from school.

For younger children it can be useful to limit the range of options presented to only two or three. For smaller kids it is best to avoid open-ended questions but to stick to the smaller number of options you present to them.

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And why did I do this?

Doing this exercise and playing the "what if" game is a good step, but it is also very helpful to know why this is important. It is essential for children to learn about making choices, to build confidence, learn independence and understand the consequences of their choices. Making choices is a healthy habit for children and it will empower them later in life.


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