How do you feel when you are given a choice?
Do you feel that you have control in a situation, do you feel included?
Giving children a chance to make choices, is allowing them to have some control over their lives. This can be very empowering, even if the choices are small.
Making little choices
As beneficial as it is to have a routine to follow to get everyone doing what they need to each morning, allowing for some little choices won't upset the routine too much and can be a huge benefit to a child.
It can be as easy as offering them two things to choose from.
Would you like a banana or an apple in your lunch?
Would you like to wear the red shirt or the green one?
Pick which hat you would like off the rack.
By setting up what the child can choose from you are still making sure that what they choose is safe, healthy and fits what they need.
It is important to recognize the good choices they make by acknowledging at the time that it is a good choice, or later when the situation proves it to be a good choice. (for example while outside on a hot day you can acknowledge it was a good choice of hat).
As children get older their choices can help them learn cause and effect. If their choices don't work out as well as they had hoped it provides a chance for a conversation about what choices might have been better.
These simple little choices that you allow children to make can build up their confidence in themselves as well as help them practice decision-making skills.
As important as it is to acknowledge good choices it is also important not to deflate their choices.
If a child chooses an outfit that doesn't really match, think about what is more important, instilling the idea that what they wear is more important, or that being proud of accomplishing tasks is more important.
Encourage your child to be proud of their choices, even if it wouldn't have been the choice you made.
This problem seems to occur most in areas of creativity. When a child is drawing, colouring or creating it is sometimes difficult not to correct their choices of how they are drawing, what colour they are using or where they glued the eyes.
Again think to yourself, is it more important that they express their own personal creativity or that they think they have done something wrong. After all Picasso didn't have the eyes in the usual place either!
We are all different in how we think, how we do things, how we see things etc. and so it is important to allow those differences to grow without forcing them to be molded into how we do things or see things.
By giving a child choices in life we can help them grow, build up their confidence and acknowledge their individuality.
The book Unique Urial shows the importance of recognizing individuality and how cool it is to see the world from different perspectives!
It is available in the Quite a Character bookstore, or on Amazon!
“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.”
Building self-esteem in children is very important. Check out my blog post Building Blocks to Self-Esteem for more ideas on how to do that.