How Much Milk Do You Give A One Year Old Decision Making: The First Step in the Process for Young Children

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Decision Making: The First Step in the Process for Young Children

We’ve all heard it…

“Do you want milk or juice?”

“Yes.”

“Do you want to wear your sparkly shoes or your fast running shoes?”

“Yes.”

Young children often simply answer “Yes” when asked to choose between two things.

It can be cute. It can be endearing. It can be frustrating.

However, it illustrates one of the very first aspects of decision making.

At the most basic level, decision making involves making a choice. Later, decision-making skills expand to encompass predicting outcomes, considering consequences, and weighing risks and benefits. However, at its most basic level, decision making is about making a simple choice between two things, and it’s a skill we can help our children develop.

First, we need to limit the choices we offer a young child. Start by offering only two options.

When we offer a choice between two things and the child responds with “Yes”, help the child reflect on the process. First, explain that the word “or” means that there are two options. Clarify which are the two options. Then explain that they must choose only one of these options.

For example, say, “It’s an ‘or’ question. There are two choices. You can have milk OR juice, not both. Here is the milk. Here is the juice. Which one do you want ?

Before too long, this treatment can be shortened to the simple reminder phrase, “It’s a ‘or’ question”, often accompanied by a fond chuckle. This will encourage the child to remember that he must differentiate and select only one of the two offers.

Remember that with young children we should initially limit the number of options we offer to just two, until the child is able to respond appropriately frequently without us asking. After that, we can increase the number of choices to more than two.

It is important that we start working with our young children to develop good decision-making skills. When young children make decisions, the consequences are usually inconsequential. It does not matter if the child chooses to drink milk or juice. It doesn’t matter if the child chooses to wear sparkly shoes or fast running shoes. These choices do not have the potential to change lives. They do not have the potential to cause harm.

So that’s where we start, helping our children learn the decision-making process…identifying and responding appropriately to “or” questions.

“Do you want milk or juice?”

“Yes.”

Laugh… “It’s a ‘or’ question.”

It was such a litany in my own family’s home that last week when I asked my 40-year-old son, “Would you like to come over to my house for dinner, or do you have other plans?” , he replied, “Yes.” Then he tilted his eyes at me and smiled.

I laughed and replied, “It’s a ‘or’ question.

“I was wondering if you would say that,” he replied, his smile widening. “Yes, I will come to dinner.”

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