There can be too much of a good thing—especially for a toddler. Little minds can be overwhelmed when presented with too many choices. So keep these things in mind when it’s choosing time for your child:
1. Plan Ahead
You’re at the toy store and there are rows of stuffed animals. Your child starts running from toy to toy grabbing as many as he can while chanting, “I want that one! I want that one!” The troubles begin when you have to break the news to him that he can have only one; and your child responds by having a classic melt-down.
Instead, stay one step ahead of him. Even before you get to the aisle, tell him that he’s going to see lots of stuffed animals, but he can have only one toy today. Reinforce this message as he makes his choice.
2. A, B or C
Developing brains can only process so much at a time. Once you’ve presented more than three choices to your child, you’ve probably lost him. So, if it’s lunchtime and you’re at a restaurant, present him with three choices at the most.
3. Perspective and Praise
When your child makes a decision, praise him for thinking it through. Also help him enjoy his choice. If he starts expressing doubt, remind him that he can make a different choice next time. Letting your child choose, and making him feel good about it will build his confidence and ability to think through decisions.
Lauren Dungy is an early childhood education specialist, a bestselling author, a devoted wife and mother of nine children.