Supporting children with decision making

A child’s age will affect their ability to make decisions, and the ways in which you can help them with this. Listening to children and asking open questions can assist them in the process of developing and ordering their thoughts and ideas.

While we need to provide opportunities for children to explore making decisions for themselves, there are some important things we need to take into account as carers:

Child solving a problem.

If we meet a hurdle in implementing what the child has decided they would like to do, then this is a great opportunity to engage their problem solving skills and explore alternatives. We can ask questions designed to direct and assist children to come up with a new, and hopefully more appropriate, suggestion or decision.

Acknowledging what a great idea the child had, and then clearly explaining why we may not be able to implement it will help the child feel heard and understood. They can then take ownership of deciding how we can overcome the problem which was encountered.

Once the child has a clear plan about what they would like to do, we can continue facilitating by providing or directing them to materials and resources which will help them to execute their ideas. It can be tempting for the adult to take over and control the project, but we must remember that the adult is only the linchpin in the process. The adult can provide input from their own repertoire of ideas and suggestions to extend the children's play, but the play itself belongs to the child.

Everyone working in the children’s services industry needs to gain the knowledge and skills to ensure they are able to develop and maintain effective relationships and promote positive behaviour in the childcare environment.

Activity icon

Holly and Rawinia are in the process of dragging the plastic slide onto the concrete to make it a part of their obstacle course.

Does this decision they have made present any risks?

What questions could you ask them to invoke their thinking about whether or not they should go ahead with this?

In your notebook, write down a script of the conversation you might have with Holly and Rawinia.

To make sure you have completed all the activities for this section, you can use the >Activity checklist (Word 76Kb). You can print the checklist to keep in your notebook.