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Toddlers Learn to Make Choices

by Tania Cowling | June 22nd, 2015 | Development, Infants/Toddlers

toddler smiling (400x400)Making choices and solving problems is an important part of child development and becoming creative. From infancy on, children work daily to make choices and solve problems. As a parent, you already help your child learn to make wide choices everyday and probably do so naturally. How many times do you ask your toddler if they would like apple juice versus grape juice? Or which cereal would they like for breakfast? Do you ask which book they would like to read today? These are all questions that build problem-solving skills in their young lives.

Now, sometimes choices are limited or directed. For example, when you ask if your child would like to color before or after lunch. Or tell him, he can go outside after the toys have been put away – these are more directed. Toddlers have opportunities to make choices daily, especially if parents present activities in these manners. When toddlers have to decipher choices it makes them think, compare outcomes and consequences, see connections, and problem solve. You may say this is too advanced for a young child, but they are using their minds and learning about their world in a simple fashion. Every choice they make empowers a child.

Use activities to promote creativity in the kitchen. Make some instant pudding together. Have a variety of chopped fruit and allow your toddler to create a culinary masterpiece for dessert. You can also do this with ice cream toppings, sandwich fixings, and decorating cupcakes.

Practice real life experiences with dress-up and dramatic play. Pretend you are a new neighbor and role-play with your toddler. Speak with her in this fashion: “Hello, I’m Mrs. Douglas your new neighbor. Would you like to come over to my house for dinner? What is your favorite food? How about dessert?” Now it’s time to go to the grocery store. “Can you think what foods we need to buy? What color car should we drive?” Some questions are true-to-life and others are fun choices. Playing these type games are fun and teach toddlers vocabulary and problem solving skills. Remember playing together provide teachable moments.

When it’s time for art, present your child with a variety of materials to use. Encourage toddlers to make decisions about colors to use and trinkets to glue on a sheet of paper. Let them make choices whenever possible. This practice will follow your child for a lifetime. Just think about you as a parent – how many choices do you make in a day? Probably more than you think! Read more about how parents teach their toddlers about making choices here.

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