Better Parents: Helping Your Children Make Choices

August 13, 2019
August 13, 2019 Lindsay Tighe

Better Parents: Helping Your Children Make Choices

In a previous blog I wrote about using questions to help children to make decisions and I shared the example of Glenys who was feeling very frustrated with her 17-year-old son who she had been trying to engage about the need to fill in forms to go to university. When she took a more questioning approach to the conversation magically he made a decision and took ownership to move forward.

In this weeks blog I wanted to revisit the questions I shared with you that enable decision making and will then explore some other possibilities with you. The original questions I shared were:


  • What do you think will work best?
  • What will you do next?
  • What is the best choice for you?
  • What is the best advice you can give yourself right now?
  • What is the right thing to do?

Whilst these are all very valuable questions, I do want to recognise that getting children to the point of making a decision can sometimes be challenging, and even though you us these questions there may still be some resistance. So I wanted to explore a couple of other options with you that I hope will enable you to be more successful at pushing for a decision to be made.

The first thing to be mindful of is that making a decision can ultimately feel quite pressured so changing the language of the question to soften the impact of this can be really useful. So for example asking:

  • What is one small step that you can take to move you forward?

This question enables your child to still make a choice but the language used lets them know that it is not such a big thing and as such feels less pressured. They are more likely then to feel comfortable in answering.

The second thing is that some children (and indeed adults) have a preferred decision making style of knowing what they don’t want rather than what they do want. So continuing to ask them what they want can prove fruitless or at least hard work. An approach that can work here is to push for a decision by making the decision for them, so for example:

  • If I told you to do A or B – how would you feel?

I hope that you can see that you are enabling them to work out the option what they don’t want to do that pushes them closer to making a decision about what they do want to do.

I hope that these ideas are useful for you, particularly given that decision making is such an important part of a child’s development and enabling them to build their confidence to do it, is a really valuable thing for parents to achieve.