When’s the last time you heard a child say:  I had to do that. I didn’t have any choice!  or She made me do it! or I’m bored… there’s nothing to do. or  It wasn’t my fault… he started it! Sometimes kids find themselves in situations in which they think they just don’t have any choices.

choice2It might not seem so at first, but kids always have choices.

That’s what step 2 in the CHOOSE tool is all about

Teach kids two important truths:

  1. There are always lots of choices for us.
  2. We may have to look hard to find them, especially when we can’t have our first choice.

Conversation starter — Try this example:

On Saturday morning, Gina’s mom told her she had to clean her room—right now, and no excuses! Gina was just getting ready to go outside to ride her bike. But now she has to clean her room. She doesn’t have any choice….right?

It’s true—Gina doesn’t have a choice about whether or not to clean her room. Mom was clear about that. But she still has choices. In fact, what Gina chooses to do next is very important. First ask: What are some of Gina’s choices? Let the child struggle to multiply options (and here are some possible responses you can drop in to help kickstart their thinking):

  • She can mess around and try to avoid cleaning her room.
  • She can try to sneak out of the house and ride her bike anyway.
  • She can “Claim her problem” and get it done as quickly as possible so she can get on with what she really wants to do.
  • What other choices can you think of? (after children exhaust their lists—help them add 2 more!)
  • Can you see how the choice Gina makes will either help her or make things harder? (i.e. what are the consequences?)

Finding all our choices takes practice.

Most children (and adults) give up too soon, thinking we just don’t have any options, or we do the first thing that comes into our mind.

Brainstorming leads to empowerment.

It gives children the tools they need to protect themselves from being victimized or acting impulsively, especially in those situations in which we are not available to guide or protect them.

Growing up knowing, “I always, always have choices” is one of the most valuable gifts we can give children!

Tweetable: Many children give up too soon when brainstorming choices in any given situation. This could help. Click to Tweet