1 YEAR OLD
Should you really give your little one choices? What’s wrong with telling her outright what you want her to do? DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON weighs in on the issue.
Should you really give your toddler choices? What’s wrong with telling her outright what you want her to do?
One-year-olds like to do things their way. It’s not surprising that your toddler throws a tantrum when she can’t choose what she wants to do, wear or eat.
On a positive note, you should be delighted that your growing child is keen to be independent and can think for herself.
You certainly want her to become more self-reliant and to have the ability to make good choices as she grows through the preschool years.
She’ll be proud to make decisions without your help; and you’ll be pleased when she makes choices you approve of.
On the other hand, she is only one year old and still has a lot to learn. You may doubt the wisdom of giving her choices at this age, for example, letting her pick between red shoes and blue sandals.
Chances are, you were not brought up that way, and you may prefer to tell her outright every time what you want her to do.
It really is up to you, but consider these reasons why giving choices can be a good or bad move:
Confidence Your toddler feels good about herself when she is allowed to make minor decisions in her life, like choosing a red T-shirt instead of the yellow one. Making choices boosts her self-esteem.
Control Letting her make small, occasional choices gives her some control over what happens, and also teaches her at a young age that her decisions can have consequences. This helps lay the foundation for positive decision-making as an adult.
Commitment Your oneyear-old is much more likely to cooperate when she has been involved in the matter. For example, if she gets to choose her socks, she’ll happily get dressed without making a fuss.
Safety Your little one doesn’t fully appreciate the dangers that lie in front of her. You can’t, for instance, allow her to roam up and down the stairs whenever she wants because she may hurt herself in the process.
Consideration Her choice may have an impact on someone else in your family. For instance, if she chooses to continue playing with her toys when you want her to tidy them away, this could affect your afternoon schedule.
Rules You have standards of behaviour that you expect her to follow. If you continually let her have the final say, she will have difficulty following them later on in childhood.
It’s not always easy to get the balance right. Certainly as your child gets older, she’ll have to learn how to make good decisions.
You may feel she has plenty of time to do that when she is, say, four or ve years old, or you may start the learning process now while she is at this toddler stage.
If you want to give her choices, keep them simple. Don’t offer more than two alternatives, whether that’s deciding between two pairs of shoes to wear, or two toys to play with.
Once she has decided, briefly ask her why she selected that particular item and not the other one.
In addition, make sure that when you make choices for her, you don’t give in to her just because she complains loudly, sulks or even has a tantrum.
If you decide to give her choices, keep them simple. Don’t offer more than two alternatives.