How to Allow Your Young Child More Choices

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Are you allowing your young child enough opportunities to declare independence and express their opinions through choice?

If you have young children, then you know how much they like to be the one making the choices. But, it’s so hard, because there is so much that they can’t make the choices about – hygiene, schedules, meals, school, so much!

I know my kiddos sometimes get frustrated when they want to make a choice, but it’s one of those times when Mommy or Daddy get to decide. So, I decided to make a concerted effort to allow my children to have more opportunities to choose.  



I think it is safe to say that we all want our children to grow up to be good decision makers.  But, that doesn’t happen automatically.  Making decisions and weighing consequences takes practice.  That’s why it is important to allow your children choices when they are young.

On their website, Early Childhood News talks about a young child’s need to assert themselves and gain autonomy and independence.  That’s one of the reasons so many little ones are always saying “no”.  No, No, No.  That’s their way of showing that they are their own person and capable of making choices.  So, if you give them more choices, you may start to hear less of the no’s.

Psychology Today suggests that there are many benefits to giving kids choices.  Some of them are: inviting cooperation, building respect, and developing problem-solving skills.

When kids are little, the choices may seem silly to you.  But, in their eyes, there is so much that they don’t get to decide, that it’s such a big deal to them when they do.  

There really are a lot of times when they can choose; you just have to be able to spot them.

I recommend giving your child two choices.  Providing your child with too many choices can be overwhelming.  So, just give it a K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid).

So, today I would like to share with you some opportunities in a typical day when you can let your children choose.

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  • Getting Dressed
    • Let them choose their socks
    • You choose two shirts and let them pick which one they want to wear
    • Have girls? Let them choose their ponytail holder or hair bow
  • Breakfast
    • Give your child two choices of fruit ( or cereal, juice, whatever) and let them choose
    • Let them choose between two breakfast options (cereal or bagel, scrambled eggs or omelet, etc)
  • Lunch (similar options to breakfast)
    • Choose fruit
    • Choose between two lunch options (mac & cheese or sandwich, choice of two sandwiches, etc)
    • juice or milk choice
    • cottage cheese or yogurt
  • Dinner (not as many options here)
    • One way to allow your child to choose is to help plan the weekly meals.
    • Maybe one day each week, your child gets to choose the vegetable for dinner
  • Evening/Bedtime
    • Which first brush teeth or go to bathroom
    • read a story and have mommy make one up
  • Miscellaneous
    • Which toys do you want to pick up now and which later? (again, two choices, so kitchen toys now, and action figures later, etc)
    • Let them choose between two activities (paint or color, read a book or play a game, etc)
    • Let them choose between two chores (unload the dishwasher or put away the clean towels and washcloths, match the socks or pick up the toy room floor, etc)
    • We let our children choose an experience for their birthday presents, they always get so excited for it.  You can check out my post about it here.

Let It Be Their Choice

Once your child has decided, respect their choice.  They didn’t pick the shirt you wanted, too bad.  It’s their choice, not yours.  Respecting their choices shows them that you, well, respect them.  It can boost their confidence to know they made a good decision.  So, no “but, the zebra shirt is so cute!” comments, mama. 

Once you start, you’ll see there are lots of opportunities to provide your children with choice through the day.  So, let’s get started raising tomorrow’s decision makers!

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