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Toddler Development

Giving Toddlers Choices

toddler development During toddler development, it seems important to offer variety and choices to our little ones. It helps them learn to make decisions and allows them to make their needs more clear to us.

However, there are many decisions that belong to us as parents to make for our toddlers.

These usually fall into the category of routine, daily activities such as meal, bed, and bath times.

It is also important to remember that life can seem very confusing to a toddler if his parents don't make these decisions for him. Toddlers have quite enough to think about without beng left to decide on outcomes which don't belong to them to make!

Give you toddler a break and act like a parent, only giving him simple choices to help him learn about decision making.

Here is a reader's question that helps illustrate this point:

Toddler Development - Giving Choices?

Hello -
I love your site and I have a question -

Why is it that my 2 year old seems to constantly change his mind?

toddler development I ask him if he's hungry and wants to eat now and he says yes.

Then when I give him his food he says no and throws it on the floor. Is he hungry or not?

The same thing happens now at his bath time. I ask him if he wants me or my husband to bath him and he says Daddy. Then when his Dad begins, he throws a tantrum and wants me instead.

It's really getting me down and I'm not sure how to handle it now.

Any helpful suggestions?

Hello there Anthea,

Yes, the simple answer is too many choices!

Here is a simple parenting tip that can often change the outlook from outright toddler warfare to an easier, more peaceful situation during toddler development.

Instead of confusing your toddler with too much variety, offer limited choices so your toddler learns how to make decisions.

Offering too many choices is just too confusing and often the cause of conflict and toddler tantrums.

Try being more clear, firm and consistent in your parenting approach.

toddler development You are in charge of his schedule.

He has no choice around that - and neither should he - he's too young for that much responsibility.

You tell him that he is having a bath and that his Dad is bathing him. Your toddler can then make a choice about what toys he would like to play with while he enjoys his bath.

Around the issue of meal times, you tell him it is meal time.

You determine his meal times, and offer a choice maybe between which fruit he would like. Read more about parenting toddlers and eating.

For example you ask, "Would you like a banana or an apple now?" rather than "What would you like to eat?"

For instance:
"We are going for a walk now so you need to be warmer. Would you like to wear this sweater or this one?"

Don't ask him if he wants to wear a sweater, instead, you suggest a choice of two sweaters.

There is less for him to rebel against this way and with more guidance, security and clarity, he feels more secure.

Toddler Development - Making Choices?

  • Too Much Choice!
Many parents wrongly accredit giving toddlers a variety of choices with helping their growing independence.

Often toddlers are just miserably confounded by all that is on offer. They want everything when it is offered and have little understanding that you are meaning they may choose just one.

  • Think of it this way!
I have often heard parents say "Do you want to come for a walk?" when what they mean is "We are going for a walk".

For a toddler in the stage of terrible two's being asked "do you?" almost invariably requires a loud "NO!" in reply.

  • Clear Communication
raising confident children Try to be vigilant with your communication as this certainly lessens the turbulence of the times.

If you are consistent, this is what your toddler will learn:

Mum and Dad will not always give me what I want but I will get what I need.

When they set limits for me I will often get angry but that is how I will learn balance.

I'm sure you will make great headway with your toddler development when you offer him limited choices, Andrea.

It's always helpful to share your experiences with other parents.

Thank you for the opportunity to address this important question.

If you have a question, please contact me here.
From Toddler Development - Giving Choices back to Parenting Toddlers

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