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Helping kids to make decisions

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

Decision making can be hard. It's a valuable life skill. Some children and adults can struggle greatly with this.

At a very young age children use their senses to make choices. Then from 12 months they can start to think about it . By the time they are a toddler they want it all. For example they can't choose just one toy from a lot of toys.

Next they start to have the awareness of choosing. By two years old they are also making choices about their behaviour. At three years old they start to have strong likes and dislikes. This has developed by about four year old when they want to be in charge of the choices and decisions.

Five and six years olds are conscious of having to make decisions. They can take a while over them however.

Be aware that children's learning style can affect how they make decisions. Some children are more impulsive.

As adults, we are making thousands of decisions each day. Some have become routine so we aren't conscious of them. However, children have to start making decisions. This is a strategy we can teach them.

It's really helpful if you, as the parent, has learnt to make decisions,. You can actively involve your children in your processes so they can have it modelled.

What makes decision making hard

If we understand what is making it hard we can begin to eliminate the barriers.

You may put a lot of weight on 'getting it wrong'. This creates a pressure.

When we invest time and energy into a decision it makes the decision harder.

We need to remember that no decision is still a decision.

Sometimes you may make a decision and then become anxious that you have made the wrong decision.

How can we make it easier

You will find that if you learn about yourself and get to know yourself then decision making becomes easier.

You can also do this during the decision making itself.

If you accept that it's okay to make mistakes this removes some of the pressure. This is also how we learn and grow.

Some pressure is removed once we realise that there is often not a right or wrong answer.

When you realise you can just pick one without being be too tied to the outcome,

It really helpful to accept the decision you have made and don't berate yourself afterwards.

And remember, there are always more opportunities to make different decisions

Sometimes a time limit can make it easier, its forces you into a decision.

As adults we have developed many habits. This means we no longer have to make the decision each time. We know that this is just what we do in a certain situation.

Helping Children make decisions

When you are helping your child to make decisions, make it easy.

1. We can often suffer choice fatigue from too many choices. So for children, give them simple choices. Only give 2 choices or options. Keep options within the bounds of what is appropriate for them.

2. Model how you do it yourself- as you weigh up the pros and cons and alternatives.

3. Talk about it after

4. Praise them for making a decision

5. Start to step back and let them do it


Decision making is a life long skill. Model it for your children and help them learn the process.

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