Back to School at
Home > Kids > Values and Responsibilities > Fostering Independence > Teach Your Child How to Make Choices

Teach Your Child How to Make Choices

Behave Yourself!

Why so negative? It's better to plan for success, rather than failure (It's been said that people who expect success are more likely to achieve it than people who expect to fail). Provide choices that will work for your child.

It's a Good Idea!

Take a deep breath, step back, and trust your child's choices. He is learning what he wants, needs, and values—these things can't be forced. Model your values, then let your little bird fly.

Choice Expands with Age

As an adult, you have free choice about many aspects of life. You've earned that. Children start out unable to handle anything but the simplest choices. Think of the challenge faced by the kid in the ice-cream shop: “Chocolate or vanilla?” As kids get older, the choices become more complex, and they should.

Free Choice?

No matter what you say, do, or try to control, your child does have choices. Yes, they can be restricted choices, but your child can always choose noncompliance. I say it's better to provide a variety of choices instead of letting the extreme choice of noncompliance be a child's only option. You'll do best and be happier when you embrace choice and learn how to work with it (since it exists, you might as well make it work for you). When choices and the choice-making process are made explicit, there is less room for misunderstandings to occur.

Choice Builds Strength

The world has its dangers, and try as you might, you cannot protect your child from all of them. A child's best defense is the ability to make safe, wise choices, and this is a skill that takes practice. Help your child by guiding her through the choice making process. That's really all you can do, and that's often more than enough.

<< Previous: Teaching tips

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to a Well-Behaved Child © 1999 by Ericka Lutz. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

August 29, 2014

Eating a colorful diet or fruits and veggies helps ensure your child is getting the nutrients he needs to keep his brain sharp while at school. Aim to pack three or more different colored foods in his lunch (or for snack) every day.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.



Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit to sign our petition to save handwriting!

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!