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Is it right to give my 2½-year-old choices in simple decisions?
Christine Baltimore
Perhaps you can try to find out why his father feels so strongly about this and thinks that parents should make all the decisions for a young child. Does he see evidence that your son is acting spoiled? Does he see think his control is ineffective when major decisions have to be made? Also, you might help him see how proud your son is after he gets to have this small degree of control in his life. I think you are, so long as you abide by a reasonable definition of "simple" decisions. The examples you give certainly represent a proper definition of appropriate decisions, and allowing your son choices in these areas doesn't mean he is running your life! Rather, it means that he is being given an opportunity to learn to make decisions and thereby have some autonomy—something that all 2 ½-year-old children want and need. This sort of thing can, however, get out of hand. So be alert to any indication on your son's part that he now feels he should make all the decisions about anything that affects him —when to go to bed, where to sleep, what and when to eat, etc.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education