2.1 How children learn what to expect and what not to require
2.1.2 Opportunities to make their own choices
As far as the child is concerned, the parent is the person who knows best what to do for the little one. The adult has experiences which a child cannot possibly have. This means that the little one needs encouragement to create his own experiences within the boundaries set by the adults. This is the best way to develop independence: the parent lays before the child carefully chosen options. It is recommended that these options are limited in number. A three years old child should only have to chose between two options as the choice is bound to be made more difficult if there are more options.
The occasions when we offer the child options are easily found in daily routines: from food choices, flowers you may want to buy for his/her room. Let the child decide if he/she is having an apple or an apricot, if he’s wearing the green or the blue Tshirt, if he’s going on a swing or on a slide in the park.
By making these simple choices, the child is developing the initial stages of independence. As they grow up, children should be included in decisions regarding family life: What colour do you think we should paint the kitchen? What would you like to do today: should we go shopping or visit your auntie? Etc. These are moments when children learn to be responsible, learn that their actions have consequences and learn that they are important members of the family, and later that they are important members of society.
As adults, we tend to decide for children to avoid things turning out the way we don’t want them to turn out or for fear the child will make the wrong decision. However, making mistakes is normal and we don’t always learn from other people’s mistakes. Studies have shown that we learn best from our own mistakes. As a result, it is important to offer children real life opportunities where they experiment and understand cause and effect