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Kids Can

I choose watermelon.

child eating watermelon

watermelon wedge   

Having the chance to make decisions gives a child a sense of control over their life and lets them know that there are options.

girl in clothes closet

Allowing a child to make decisions:

  • Helps them feel that somebody is listening to them and trusts them to make good choices.
  • Increases their confidence in their own skills and abilities.
  • Makes them more responsible.
  • Improves their ability to judge risks.
  • Helps them feel that their values and wants are respected.
  • Helps them see that there are things that they must accept and things they can choose to change.
watermelon wedge


Here’s how you can help your child develop decision making skills:

  • Provide opportunities for your child to make choices.
  • The choices offered need to be safe and realistic.
  • Involve your child in decisions that affect them.
  • Don't give them a choice when there's no real option or an adult decision is needed.
  • Give them choices that are appropriate for their age.
  • Two choices are enough and parents should be happy with either option.
  • Guide them in making good decisions e.g. healthy eating choices.
  • Give them chances to succeed, praise them when they try and celebrate wise choices.

caution sign Safety first!

Don’t give children choices that may impact their safety such as not wearing seatbelts, or bike helmets.


girl putting on helmet

quiz icon Quiz

Your child is riding their tricycle and complains about wearing their helmet.  What is the best plan?

a) Put the helmet back on your child and tell them that they can’t ride their tricycle without it.
b) Take the helmet and tricycle away from your child.
c) Engage your child in an activity that helps them learn why wearing a helmet is important.

 The best answer is ‘C’. It’s often necessary to take control and insist on certain behaviours as in answer ‘A’, but it is better for a child to understand why something is important and learn to make good decisions. Check out helmet safety.
 The best answer is ‘C’. It’s often necessary to take control and insist on certain behaviours as in answer ‘A’, but it is better for a child to understand why something is important and learn to make good decisions. Check out helmet safety.

Activities

boy talking about holiday
  • Go on a healthy food hunt at your local grocery store.
  • Play ‘Where would you like to go?’  Help your child learn that there are lots of choices in this world by: identifying places they would like to go for a holiday (cottage or beach trip etc), places that they could go on a weekend (movies, grocery store, the arena, park etc.), places they could go today (play centre, library, friend’s house etc.). 
  • Use everyday experiences to talk about choices:
    • At a crosswalk have your child identify all the choices - stop, go, wait - and decide which one they should do.
    • Visit the fruit and vegetable section of the grocery store and have your child select one fruit or vegetable that they would like to buy and take home. Do activities with your child to help them learn which choices are best. See Canada’s Food Guide and Healthy Eating resources