Series Part #19: How Does Your Child Make Choices?
On a list of things kids need to learn before starting kindergarten, you probably would not expect to see ‘Making Choices,’ but this is an important skill. You may be skeptical, but have you ever been too tired to even choose what cereal you want for breakfast? Anything will do as long as you do not have think about making a choice. That’s because choosing requires thinking and brain energy.
For children, making choices is a skill that need practice and experience. Some children have much more difficulty with this than others. It may not even be a concern until children are faced with an increased level of independence in kindergarten. How does your child cope with this? Some children are reluctant to make choices and hesitate until someone else decides, finding the task overwhelming. Other children want to choose every tiny detail and some make choices impulsively. Another concern can be getting stuck on a choice and not changing it when it doesn’t work out.
Choices are not often a simple yes or no, there can be lots of details to consider. No wonder choosing can be such a challenging skill for kids–and grownups–and we sometimes just use eeny, meeny, miney, mo.
Before going to kindergarten, you can give your child some opportunities to practice making choices, where appropriate. Maybe such things as what to wear, what color of cereal bowl, cut-up or whole fruit, helping with dishes or laundry first, what story to read, etc. Provide some feedback about good choices and bad ones, but also let kids tell you what they have figured out. Let your child see what you do when you are making a choice by ‘thinking out-loud’ and checking on the outcome later.
In the book Should I Share My Icecream, by Mo Willems, Elephant has to choose to eat his ice cream or share it. He has a hard time choosing as he tries to think of possibilities. (see video below)
All too soon, kids will be making major choices but for now, it helps them get ready to start kindergarten. Could making choices be the play-of-the-day for today?