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By Jean Warren

The preschool years are a good time to start encouraging your child to make choices. Look for opportunities where the outcome doesn't really matter and let your child make the choice. No we don't have to let them do whatever they want but we can give them two acceptable choices and let them choose which one they prefer.

Children need practice in making good choices. The skill is not automatically learned when they reach eighteen. Once my mother let me buy a pair of red shoes for school. I thought they were beautiful but she knew they would not be practical. She let me buy them anyway. I was soon tired of red shoes but they were the only shoes I had for school. Should my mother have stepped in and made me buy the more practical pair? I don't think so. I made the wrong choice but I learned a valuable lesson at a time in my life when choices were minor ones.

Daily choice examples:

  • Set out two acceptable outfits and let your child decide which one they want to wear.
  • Let your child choose between two vegetables at dinnertime.
  • Let your child choose what kind of cake they want for their birthday.
  • Let your child choose between two books you could read.
  • Let your child decide which toy he will take with him in the car.
  • As children, get older, let them help you choose what you will fix for dinner or what pair of jeans they like best.

We cannot always smooth the road for our child or they would never learn to think for themselves. Learning means trial and error. Make your child's environment a safe one but fill it with opportunities for choice.