Giving Toddlers Choices

by | Apr 24, 2020 | toddler

Watch and Listen to Ann McKitrick give advice about how to reduce conflict with toddlers.

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Toddler Temper Tantrums

Toddlers and two year olds and three year olds are infamous for arguing or demanding that they get their way, crying or yelling or screaming or hitting if things don’t go exactly the way that they want them.

They are learning to express themselves, which is just a part of their development. They’re new with language and they oftentimes don’t have the words that they need to express what they need to say. They’re learning that they have personal power as a human being.

They’ve discovered that they are a separate person, apart from you and apart from other people. They do have some personal power and they’re learning to use that power. As parents and caretakers of young children, we have to understand that process and respect and honor that because it’s a really important developmental task.

With toddlers, one tip is that you can try to prevent a bit of a power struggle many times by offering a choice. Children like to be in control. They need to be in control. They need to learn to be a good decision maker, so we need to offer them a choice.

It’s best to have just a choice of two things. If we offer too many choices, it becomes mind boggling for them and frustrating for us.

Some examples are:

  • Do you want to wear your red shirt or your giraffe shirt today?
  • Do you want to have apple sauce or sliced apples with your lunch?
  • Do you want to take your nap on your bed or do you want his nap on mom’s bed today?

Here’s a little tip: The younger the child, when you give a choice, they’ll almost always take your second choice. And so, if you personally have a preference, offer them the thing that you want them to choose last, and nine times out of ten, if they’re really young, they will choose that second thing.

So, there you go. I hope that helps you throughout the day with your little bitties at home.

About me


I'm a child development specialist, parent coach and teacher trainer. I've cared for countless babies in child development programs, plus 3 kids, 3 grand babies and 5 foster babies! I LOVE babies and would come hold yours if I could. ❤️

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