Making choices

Why offer choices?

Choices are important for us all. When we are given choices, we can communicate what we like and don’t like and have control over what we do and when we do it.

When developing language skills, children can find it hard to answer questions like ‘what book do you want to read?’ when there are so many options. Making choices gives your child a chance to communicate their wants and needs.

Giving choices can help teach your child how important communication skills are. They also get to have some control because they are making a decision for themselves.

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What can I do to help and promote choices?

Keep it simple. Only offer two choices.

Teach your child about choices. You can do this by offering them something you know they like and something they don’t like. For example, they might love banana but dislike apple. You can offer both of these at snack time and see if your child chooses the banana.

When your child makes the correct choice all of the time, start offering two favourite items. For example, your child might love banana and orange!

When can I offer choices?

Choices can be offered throughout the day in any situation. Below are a few examples:

  • snack and mealtimes - offer choices of snacks, breakfast cereals, sandwich fillings or what they would like for pudding
  • getting ready - you can offer choices of t-shirts/trousers/leggings etc e.g. would you like the Gruffalo top or the Peppa top?
  • bedtime - they can choose between two stories
  • songs - let them choose between nursery rhymes. Introduce a ‘song box’ or ‘song bag’ with toys that represent each song e.g. a bus for ‘Wheels on the Bus’ and a turtle for ‘I had a little turtle’
  • outside play - offer choices of play equipment at the park e.g. ‘swing or slide?’
  • indoor play - with structured games, like puzzles, you can offer two pieces ‘the elephant or the lion?’.

What should my child be doing when I offer choices?

Every child is different, and it depends what stage your child is at with their language development. If they have no words or a few words, you should accept clear eye gaze or pointing to the item they want as making a choice. If they have a wider range of vocabulary, still accept pointing or eye gaze. However, you can practise saying the words together.

What should I do when my child makes a choice?

Give them plenty of praise! Keep modelling the word of the item they have chosen. Give it a go and have fun with your child!

Using words and sentences