Are you raising a toddler? If so, read our tips on how to teach a toddler decision making skills!
Just ask your toddler a question and he’ll be ready with an answer. It’s usually ‘no.’ Between 18 months and 3 years, your child is struggling to gain control over his world. He has learned that he is an individual and that individuals are allowed to have preferences.
Unfortunately, his quest for independence has earned your toddler the reputation of being in the ‘terrible T’s.’
Toddlerhood does not have to be terrible, however. There are a few things to keep in mind in order to keep both your sanity and your child’s self-image in-tact during these important years.
How to Teach a Toddler Decision Making Skills
It is important for your toddler to begin making decisions for himself. It’s also important to realize, as was mentioned earlier, that your toddler is not equipped to make most of the decisions he is faced with in a day.
Your child must be safe, clean, well-fed and well-rested. These items cannot be compromised. Once you have a clear idea of what not to let your child have control over, it’s time to give over the reigns.
Your toddler should not be allowed to choose to not go to bed at bedtime. He can, however, choose whether to read two or three books. He can choose to sing “The Wheels on the Bus” instead of his favorite lullaby before bed.
A child should not be allowed to choose to leave the house half dressed. He can choose whether to dress himself or be dressed by a parent.
He can choose whether to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt, the tennis shoes or the snow boots.
Don’t be too concerned about fashion. Your toddler will gain self-confidence by being able to choose his own clothes.
Only Offer Choices When They Actually Exist
It may be implied by the previous two points, but it is important not to offer choices to a toddler that he does not actually have.
As a parent, be firm about your limits. When there is no choice to be made, your child will feel more secure if he doesn’t have the illusion that there is. For example, when it is 20 degrees outside, don’t ask your child whether or not he would like to put his coat on. He may very well say no, but he is not old enough to handle the consequences of his action.
More likely than letting him suffer such a consequence though, you will take back the option and make him wear his coat. This will, no doubt, decrease his confidence in his decision making and increase his frustrations at learning this new skill.
Toddlers are not prepared to make every decision that faces them in the day. They are ready to start the journey towards good decision making skills.
During these years of practice decisions, you as a parent can make the process much more clear and much less frustrating for your child.