Published on 14 October 2020
Legally a child cannot make certain decisions until they are in their late teen years. However, that does not stop us as adults, teachers and parents in supporting children to make their own decisions – big or small. Supporting and teaching children to make their own decisions that are age appropriate, will help children to become adults that hopefully make good decisions in life.
There are many reasons why it is important for children to be able to make decisions in their life.
- To be confident
- To trust themselves
- How to make better decisions from the mistakes they may make
- Action/choice have consequence
- To be independent and autonomous
- That they are valued
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines in article 12 that children have the right to give their opinion, and for adults to listen and take it seriously. All children have some capacity to make age appropriate decisions, as adults it is our role to facilitate situations that are safe and available for children to make decisions.
Ideas for age appropriate decisions:
2-4years: Giving children a choice of clothing. This doesn’t mean letting your child choose to wear shorts on a frosty winter day but showing them options of outfits that they can decide to wear. This can also be applied to food choices; the trick is offering different choices that they can choose from.
5-12years: Letting children choose afterschool activities, such as sports, dancing, arts etc.
11-12years: This is the perfect time to involve children in making decisions with you. Choosing a high school is huge choice for parents, let alone children. Let your child feel independent by letting them voice their opinions regarding decisions such as schools. Even if you have the final say, involving children in the process allows them to feel heard and valued.
Overall, the best way to start teaching and supporting children in making decisions is by offering them choices and by listening to what they have to say. Children should be heard. Not just seen.