It’s All About The Choices
By Hallie Bulkin
I have another tool in my Speech Pathology “tool kit” that I want to share with you today. This is one of the biggest tools I use with every child I work with be it in therapy or just in general. This tool is no secret. In fact if you or your child have worked with me you can probably guess what I am about to tell you is KEY to both you and your child’s success…
It’s all about the CHOICES!!!
That’s right…the choices! So why are choices so important? Well, the primary reason is that when you give a child choices, you are able to remain in control of the situation while they are making the final choice and also feel that they are in control of the situation as well.
Why is this important?
Some children need to feel as if they are in control (for various reasons that is beyond the scope of today’s article). By giving a child choices, you give them that sense of control which satisfies their need for making the final call.
So how do you best facilitate this?
First of all, when you give a child choices you want to make sure of two main things. One, if you give them two options be sure that you will be happy with EITHER option that they choose. For example, if you want them to eat their vegetable but not ice cream, you would say, “would you like to eat your broccoli or your carrots?” You do not want to offer broccoli or ice cream or we both know that they will most likely choose ice cream.
The second thing to pay attention to is availability. In order to avoid a melt down, make sure that whatever choices you give are something you can deliver on. For example, do not ask your child if they want milk or orange juice if you are out of milk! If they choose milk, and you don’t deliver, it could lead to a melt down. Your child may not be able to voice this but may be thinking, “why would you possibly offer milk and then not give it to me, mom???” That said, we are human…but remember…your children only see you as Super-Mom and Super-Dad. Super hero’s don’t make mistakes! 😉
How many choices should I give?
Start with 2 choices. When your child can make decisions and understands the concept of making choices (as demonstrated by selecting the item or action that they ACTUALLY want) you can add more choices to the mix. As with everything else, increase complexity by adding one extra item/action to choose from at a time.
But what if my child doesn’t speak?
You can still give him/her choices. Put them in pictures and ask your child to point to the item/action that they want. You can also use a talking app on the iPad or iPhone. Give your child the opportunity to make choices by putting it in the format that meets their needs and where they are at currently with their development.
If you can remember to offer your child choices but be sure to make the choices something you will be happy with AND make sure that you can deliver on the choices that you present, then you will have a happy child! I have YET to meet a child that did not thrive when given choices. I would love to hear how it helps you and your child. If this is not a strategy you use, be sure to try it out this week and report back! I would love to hear how it goes.