It is important and very beneficial for children to encourage their autonomy from a young age, as well as making their own decisions . With this we contribute to the development of their personality, as well as the creation of a healthy self-esteem.
Obviously, there are certain things that children cannot choose. This is the case of the non-negotiable rules that we adults set and that we have to teach them to respect. However, there are many other everyday decisions that are good for children to make for themselves .
These decisions do not entail any risk and help them to express their tastes, to develop their sense of belonging and to grow up feeling trusted and respected. In addition, making mistakes in these types of decisions also helps them learn and continue to grow as people.
Why is it beneficial for children to make some decisions?
It is very beneficial for children to participate in your day-to-day life and not be mere spectators of your life . When a child feels capable of doing things for himself and making small decisions, he grows happier, safer and more confident.
However, we do not always encourage the critical spirit of children, especially when it comes to young children.
Whether due to an issue of overprotection, not believing them capable or thinking that we should be the adults who guide all aspects of their lives while they are in our care, many parents are afraid to leave certain decisions in the hands of their children , even knowing that in the case of making a mistake it will not bring any consequence.
As we said at the beginning, there are certain non-negotiable rules that parents must set and children must abide by. We refer to rules that have to do with their safety and that of others , as well as other decisions that they cannot make due to lack of capacity and immaturity.
Such would be the case of decisions that affect their nutrition, their proper rest, going or not going to school, their safety on the road or decisions that harm others in some way, to give just a few examples.
Instead, our day to day life is full of small daily decisions that children can make , and that we parents have to do as animals. Because fostering their decision-making ability from a young age will turn them into self-confident people, without complexes, without fear of making mistakes and with strong self-esteem.
What decisions can children make according to their age
Now, although these are daily decisions, we cannot “let go” of children and ask them to suddenly start making decisions without any guidance or accompaniment, because as is logical, they will feel lost and overwhelmed by the infinite options that are presented to them . they present.
In this sense, it is very helpful to limit the range of possibilities so that they can choose the option they like best, ask them open questions so that they reach a conclusion for themselves (for example: “if it is winter and it is cold, what jacket Do you think it is the most recommended to go out into the street”? ), and above all allow them to make mistakes, because mistakes are the best way to learn.
It is also very enriching before making a decision to do a reflection exercise as a family, and ask ourselves: what options do we have? What is the worst that can happen if our son makes a mistake in his decision? How does the child’s decision affect other people?
Asking ourselves these questions we will realize that except for those non-negotiable rules that we mentioned above, children can begin to decide a large number of things from a very young age.
Having said that, here are some of the daily decisions that children can make depending on their age .
Up to three years
We may think that a child of two or three years old is too young to decide, but from this age parents can encourage this part of their development by encouraging them to make small decisions from day to day , such as choosing which shirt they want to wear – inside of the two or three options that we offer him-, what hairstyle he wants to wear, what kind of backpack or bag he likes to go to school, or what story he wants us to read to him at night.
From three to six years
By preschool, many children are becoming more aware of their likes and dislikes and want to do almost everything on their own. It is time to open the range of options regarding their physical image or their tastes and allow them to choose from a greater number of possibilities.
They can also decide on other aspects related to their diet , such as the type of lunch they want to take to school (within the healthy options that we present to them), what special dish they would like us to prepare for them occasionally, or the flavor of his birthday cake.
From the age of six
From the age of six there is an important advance in the child’s development, both physical and social and emotional. Therefore, the decisions that children can make are increasing . Here are some:
– Go shopping with us and choose your own clothes , always following a series of tips and recommendations for a positive and enriching experience. They could also choose what haircut they like to wear or what model of glasses to buy if they need them.
– When collaborating with housework , it allows the child to choose the activity in which he feels most comfortable, likes it the most and believes he can contribute the most value. This will make you gain confidence and security to accept more and more responsibilities.
– Whenever possible for family logistics and economy, let your child choose the extracurricular activities they want to do . This way you can explore your tastes, promote your skills and gradually forge your own criteria.
– When planning family leisure time , it allows the child to decide aspects such as which movie to watch, which board game to choose, what kind of birthday party they would like to have or where they would like to go on vacation, always within our possibilities.
– With regard to homework , if the child is reluctant to do it, instead of forcing him, he allows him to decide how and when to tackle his task. In this sense, making small decisions such as doing homework in parts or doing it after having a snack, instead of before, could solve the problem and avoid conflicts.
If throughout childhood we have accompanied our children in a respectful way in making their own decisions, encouraging them, guiding them and helping them learn from their mistakes, when they reach adolescence they will feel safe and confident to continue deciding about their lives , although logically, the older the decisions will also be greater.
Thus, they must make certain decisions that require negotiation, compromise and a detailed analysis of the advantages and disadvantages.
In short, allowing our children to actively participate in their own lives and to be able to decide on what affects them has a positive impact on them, benefiting them throughout their childhood and adolescence, and later in adulthood.
Of course, as responsible parents it is important to always be by their side to guide them through the process and respect their decisions, as long as they are not negligent or harm themselves or others. In this sense, it is essential not to impose our criteria or preach after a mistake, but to help him learn from his actions and continue moving forward .