3 things to do when your child can’t make decisions

June 20, 2019
  • Making trade-offs is difficult for adults, too
    1 / 7 Making trade-offs is difficult for adults, too

    By now, your preschooler has realised he can’t get everything he wants, and that sometimes means he has to make hard choices. When he’s told he can’t buy a robot toy and watch a movie, he’ll probably argue with you and even storm off. Even adults have difficulty making such decisions. When you shop for clothes, do you ever struggle to choose between two tops?

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  • 2 / 7

    Maybe you take hours (and several visits to the store) before making the purchase. The challenges and dilemmas you face are the same as those your child faces. Making trade-offs can be very difficult – sometimes it is easier to postpone the decision as long as possible. That’s why you need to help your little one.

    (Also read: 4 ways to help your self-conscious girl)

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  • Step 1: Remove the anxiety
    3 / 7 Step 1: Remove the anxiety

    Weighing the ins and outs of a trade-off is a process that involves a number of stages. It will help your child to be aware of these different steps along the way. First of all, explain that making choices is good fun and that he shouldn’t get upset about having to make up his mind. This will help boost his self-confidence.

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  • 4 / 7

    His biggest worry is probably making a mistake. Point out that he needn’t be afraid of picking the “wrong” option because he can do it differently the next time round. And the more often he makes these decisions, the more he’ll realise that nothing dreadful is going to happen as a result of his choice.

    (Also read: Am I pushing my child too hard: anxious kids face higher risk of depression)

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  • Step 2: Evaluate the options
    5 / 7 Step 2: Evaluate the options

    Encourage your preschooler to consider carefully the potential consequences of his decisions. For example, he doesn’t know whether to ask for a new toy for his birthday or an outing to that new theme parkSit with him and talk about the positive and negative implications. 


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  • 6 / 7

    Ask him to think what each would mean to him respectively – the toy can be played with again and again while the trip would be over that day. This way – even when the decision is very trivial – your child can make an informed decision, one based on his full awareness of different alternatives available. Let him chat with you, and be prepared to offer your own ideas (but be careful not to take over). This process reduces his stress and increases his belief that he has made the right choice.


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  • Step 3: Follow through
    7 / 7 Step 3: Follow through

    Once your child knows how he wants to resolve a trade- off – for example, he chooses to ask for a new toy for his birthday – encourage him to follow it through. Human nature tends to make us doubt our decision, and he may suffer “buyer’s remorse”, too. Help him to stay positive by telling him you think he made a great decision, and that you are pleased he didn’t react impulsively without considering his options.

    (Also read: 5 organisation tips for children)

    (Photos: 123RF.com) 

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