Choice and preference to help improve behavior


Chantele Fox, Editor-in-Chief

Temper tantrums, yelling and screaming, not listening and increased highs and lows are just a few types of behavior experienced by parents, caregivers, teachers and etc. which often times result in labeling a child as a “bad child” when in reality, they might just need a little extra empathy and patience.
According to an article titled, “Using Choice and Preference to Promote Improved Behavior,” offering children choices can lead to positive influence upon their behaviors. Some of you might be thinking, “I already do that and it doesn’t work.” Perhaps you’re offering a child choices, but are they choices based upon his or her personal preferences.
In order for this strategy to be effective, the article also states that the interests of a child should be considered when offering choices. For instance, offering the choice of coloring to a child who prefers to play with blocks will not be as effective as offering that child time to play in the construction area.
But what does taking a child’s preferences into account look like? It means that you are looking at toys they are drawn to on a daily basis, activities they enjoy participating in and even other children they enjoy interacting with.
According to the article, “Children who have few interests may also benefit from the opportunity to make choices.”
Allowing choice time helps a child to become more cooperative and can be offered in a variety of ways in many types of settings. For example, in a classroom, teachers intentionally plan choice time which can include various centers with specific activities. Children are free to come and go as they wish and can have time to make their own decisions. At home, families can offer children the choice between milk, juice and water and perhaps help in choosing what type of foods they would like when meal planning. Choices help children to feel more inclusive in the planning process.
One of the most important things to remember is that it is the responsibility of the families, caregivers and teachers to provide an environment which children feel safe and are nurtured to grow and thrive.