Giving Children Choices

photo by Corbis Images

Giving choices to kids is one of my top suggestions on raising children. During my Early Childhood minor in college, this was a popular concept! When I started reading Love and Logic books, they cemented the concept even more. I know that it can be hard to come up with choices, but the more you practice, the easier (and better) it gets!


Cute Story

I feel that I do a pretty good job of giving my kids choices (habit from teaching) , however, after reading the Love and Logic books, I decided to try and come up with more opportunities to give my kids choices.

My oldest was getting his clothes gathered for school and I thought, what a perfect opportunity, I asked him, “Would you like to put your socks or your pants on first?” He grunted in annoyance and said, “It doesn’t matter Mommy!”

I had to laugh on the inside, because he was right, it didn’t matter, and that’s the point. I love how Love and Logic describes it, give control away when it doesn’t matter (aka give your children choices) so that when it does matter, you can tell your child that it’s your turn to make a choice. Just like a checking account, you have to deposit money BEFORE you can withdraw money!


Set Up

In the beginning when I was learning how to give choices, (and sometimes now when I’m really tired or can’t think of a choice on the FLY) I give the choice, “Either you can ___ (put that on the table, give that to your brother, etc.) or Mommy can, it’s your choice, what do you choose?”

Give the child approximately five seconds to answer (it takes a few seconds for them to process what we said, and then a few seconds to make a choice and communicate that choice to us). If the child is not willing to make a choice, tell them that you will make it for them!

In the beginning, it is good to start with the words, “What would you like” or “You have a choice.” Say this sentence slow and it gives you a few seconds to come up with a choice that is ACCEPTABLE to you! Make sure that the choices you give your child to choose from are outcomes that you can live with!



Here is a list of choices I routinely give my children (feel free to add your own in the comments!):

  • Would you like cereal or oatmeal for breakfast? (Now if we are out of oatmeal, this is not a choice that I would give them)
  • Would you like to put your plate on the counter or in the sink?
  • Do you want the red bowl or the green bowl?
  • Do you want juice or milk?
  • Do you want to carry your coat or wear it?
  • Would you like to brush your teeth in the bathroom or in front of the hallway mirror?
  • Do you want to have quiet time now or after I get done feeding your brother?
  • Do you want to sit on the couch or stand on the floor?
  • Do you want to push the button or do you want me to do it?
  • Do you want to take a bath or a shower?
  • Do you want to walk or tiptoe?

Check out these Love and Logic books (I have recently read them and will be discussing them on my blog)! Visit Love and Logic’s website!

What choices do you give your children?


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