Child reaching for a Binibi bilingual kids book

The Power of Giving Your Child Choices 

What if we told you there was one very simple act you could start implementing in your day that would make life with a toddler way easier while also bringing lifelong benefits to your child? It’s as simple as giving your child choices throughout the day whenever possible. While it may be intuitive to want to make every decision for our little ones, and there are certainly times where this is necessary, there are many opportunities where we can allow our children to choose from two or three realistic options during daily activities. They are certainly capable of doing so, and, more importantly, it benefits them in different ways! 

Here are three of our favorite benefits that come with giving little one’s choices often during daily activities: 

1) It helps avoid power struggles and makes them feel like they’re in control. Kids like feeling like they’re in charge. Offering them choices is an extremely easy way to allow them to choose from a few options that you approve of while giving them the impression that they’re making the decision for themselves. If your child contradicts you often, this hack will certainly come in handy! When it’s time for your child to do non-negotiable activities like getting dressed, having dinner or going to sleep, presenting them with choices during the process makes them way more likely to cooperate as they feel that they’re making the decisions for themselves rather than us demanding them to do something. For example, if it’s time for your child to take a bath, rather than forcing them to get in the bath, you can say something like “Would you like to play with the ducks or the boats inside the bath?”. By doing so, you aren’t giving them the option to not get in the bath, rather giving them choices to make the activity seem more exciting and one they chose on their own accord. 

2) It exposes them to new language, either in the target or dominant language. Constant exposure to language is key for a child to fully grasp and retain it, especially if you’re introducing your child to a second language that they likely won’t hear as often as their dominant language. Every opportunity you get to expose your child to new vocabulary is one you should take advantage of. Whether it be in a second or first language, exposing your child to new words during day-to-day interactions helps reinforce their meanings and expand your child’s vocabulary. That said, offering your little one choices is an easy, helpful way to incorporate new words into daily activities and practice them together. As you offer your child choices, they’re hearing the words that describe both options and associating them with the choices. They then need to repeat their choice back to you which helps them retain the new words and possibly even remember them for the next time they want to ask you for that specific item or activity. You can even implement this technique for words they already know but could continue to practice to further help them stick.

3) It helps empower them and builds skills and self-confidence. By encouraging our children to make their own decisions, we are helping them build skills that will benefit them later on in life. As children start to learn that they’re capable of making decisions, they begin to feel empowered and confident in themselves. It strengthens their decision-making and problem-solving skills and prepares them for having to make harder decisions later on. Little kids are constantly surrounded by grown ups who make decisions for them. Giving them the opportunity to choose certain things for themselves helps them feel less helpless and controlled at times, essentially giving them more confidence in themselves and their ability to decide something on their own. 

The next time your child partakes in a mandatory activity, try giving them some control by giving them simple choices you approve of and reaping all of these amazing benefits– we think you’ll find your child to be way more cooperative, appreciative and on their way to learning new vocabulary!