Choosing and Planning

For planning skills, all of the ideas in this Harvard University leaflet are worth trying

Choosing can be difficult for children either because:

  • they are not used to choosing
  • they are not sure what they want
  • they don’t understand the choice
  • there are too many choices and they are overwhelmed (like adults and a big menu)

To help a child learn to choose, trying some of these might be helpful:

  • give very simple, either/or, choices at first
  • make sure the child can see what you are offering, or use a symbol.  E.g., “Do you want apple or banana?”, while showing the fruit.
  • have chats about what different people like – activities, foods, etc
  • if it is not really a choice, don’t use choosing language.  For example, if the child must stop jumping on the trampoline, don’t say “would you like to come and sit?”
  • otherwise, make it clear the child can choose what they like, and encourage them
  • model choosing yourself, and talk out loud.  “Let me see, shall I do the washing first or make the lunch?  I’m quite hungry, so let’s have lunch first”

To help a child accept your choices, these can help:

  • give them part of the choice.  For example, it really is time to stop playing and have a snack, but let the child choose where you sit or what you have
  • take turns choosing, to practice accepting other choices.  So child chooses the first game, and you choose the second, etc.
  • explain to the child the things that grown ups have to choose for children, and the reasons – but let the child choose the things they can