Giving Your Kids Choices :: Developing Their Emotional Skills


Let’s just give our kids whatever they want . . . said no parent ever. It seems strange being the adult and giving our kids the power to pick their own battles. However, every human being–big or small–needs to feel valued and important. We all need to feel useful and not overpowered or left in our feelings with unanswered questions.

The power we give our kids to make their own choices can either help them develop numerous skills or hinder them tremendously. Giving them power can make them either more defiant or more successful. 

Developing emotional skills helps our kids gain self-confidence, improve communication skills, build solid relationships, and have less stress. As parents, we take the biggest role making sure they have what they need to accomplish these skills. Setting small achievable goals helps kids learn how to prioritize. Every small accomplishment is a step toward an even bigger goal. When they learn how to achieve objectives, they feel more powerful making decisions. 

Accountability and Choices

Have you ever made a bad choice and later regretted it? I know I have. The time I ate ice cream before making my favorite dinner dish rings a bell. Guess what happened? I was too full to enjoy my favorite entrée.

When giving your children choices, try to help them understand you are holding them accountable for their decisions. Also let them know that making a mistake is not a big deal, especially if they can fix it.

For example: your kids want to go outside to play as soon as they wake up on Saturdays. But did they make their bed? You can say, “You may go outside and play IF you make your bed,” or, “If you don’t want to make your bed, you can’t have a treat after dinner.” If they still reject the idea of cleaning up, then try to come up with a solution where you can both agree. 

Make sure your choices don’t sound like threats: “You can either put your toys away or be punished.” Instead, enforce a timeframe that works for you both. “You can put your toys away before we go to the store or when we come home. It’s your choice.” As kids get older, we tend to compromise with them. This is good because it helps them learn to negotiate and not settle.

We never want our kids to feel like outcasts, excluded, insecure, or hopeless. We want them to learn life skills and feel a part of something bigger than themselves. And we don’t want to raise our voices because we (the parents) are frustrated. Show your kids that you can use words to calm down and get back to a more understanding level. We must study our children’s emotional level of understanding and ask questions to get the answers we need. 

One-on-One Time

Kids need more attention than we often give. It’s difficult, especially when you have more than one kid. 

It’s so important that we make together time with them memorable, important, and sacred. We never want them feel like we don’t answer their questions or help them repair emotionally. Use this one-on-one time to build trust so that they come to you more than just when they are in trouble. 

Put down the phone and give them your full attention. Make them feel important and needed by letting them help out in the kitchen or with various chores. Engage in things that he or she likes at a young age and build memories. Sometimes it’s reasonable to let them take control (granted that it’s safe and affordable).

No matter how busy life gets and how hard it may seem, it’s always the right time for quality time. Build that bond that holds together your children’s emotional needs. 

How about you? What ways have helped develop emotional skills in your children? Please share in the comments below!



  1. I enjoyed reading this article! Children are truly sponges and need guided structure in order to sprout. Quality time is so important and simply cannot be replaced by gadgets and gizmos. I agree with you on giving kids choices to help them learn to be more accountable in their daily lives while trusting us as parents to allow them the opportunity to build life skills and feel included! Great Read!

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