The importance of choice

It is important for children to do as an adult asks, but it is also important that they have choices.

A life skill that we strive to teach all children is how to follow an adult led instructions. We do this for two main reasons: to learn, and to remain safe.

While children need to follow adult led instructions in many different environments, including at school and at home, they deserve the opportunity to express their preferences as well. Children can’t be expected to always follow adult instruction and not think for themselves as to what they would like to do. If a child has been told they can’t have something, a specific meal is for dinner, or they need to go to a particular place they will need options at other times.

Within our ABA sessions, we offer choice all the time. When children are learning to communicate, they can express what they want to do. After all, if they don’t really want something, why would they want to communicate? If a child is learning to accept when someone says “no, not right now” then they need to have choices at other times, for example “you can’t do that right now, but you can do__ or ___”. If we are teaching a child to eat new foods, then every time they are successful, they will have a choice of preferred foods or toys afterwards.

So, in conclusion, while teaching children to follow instructions, ensure that they have enough choice too. Without the choice, the motivation to follow adult instructions will reduce significantly.

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