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Helping Your Child Learn by Giving Them Choices

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​​​​​Why is it important to give my child choices?

By giving your child choices, you help them:

  • realize they have some control or power (this helps them feel good about themselves)
  • learn that they can make decisions and solve problems
  • learn to say what they want or how they feel
  • hear new words
  • learn to repeat new words

​​​​​What kinds of choices can my child make?

Your child can make choices about many things, such as:

  • what (e.g., “What game do you want to play?”, “Do you want juice or milk?”)
  • when (e.g., “Do you want to phone grandma before or after lunch?”, “You can do your coloring now or later”.)
  • where (e.g., “You can play with your cars in the bedroom or outside.”, “Do you want to go to the park or the library?”)
  • how (e.g., “Would you rather hop or skip to the bathroom?”, “Do you want to color or cut paper?”)

​​​​​What do I need to think about when giving my child choices?

  • Only offer safe choices (e.g., “Do you want to hold this hand or the other one when we cross the street?”).
  • Try not to use “if” statements (e.g., say, “You can play a quiet game in the living room or play ball outside,” instead of, “If you keep playing ball in the living room you’ll have to go outside.”).
  • Only give choices that you can follow through on (e.g., if you want your child to drink milk, offer milk or nothing).
  • The choice must be appropriate for your child’s age (e.g., a 2½ year old cannot decide what time to go to bed at night, although you can ask if they want to come in now or in 15 minutes).
  • Wait for your child to make a choice. It may take a bit of extra time.

Be creative—give your child as many choices as possible!​​​​​

Where to go get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help, contact:

  • Your doctor, public health nurse, or other health provider
  • Your local health centre

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