Giving Choices to Increase Compliance

Giving Choices to Increase Compliance

Giving choices can be a simple way to gain compliance.  Aren’t there many times when what you want is cooperation, rather than a very specific result? You might want the child to put on their shoes so you can leave the house. You might want an older child to do their homework.  So for the adult, it can be helpful to stop and think about your goal before you give a direction.  Choices look like this:

            Do you want to wear your red shoes or your cowboy boots today?

            Do you want to do your math problems first or your spelling words?

If your child is going through a phase of saying ‘no,’  giving choices makes it easier for the child to agree and harder for the child to disagree.

            Adult: Put your shoes on. We’re leaving in a minute.

            Child: No! I don’t want to.


           Adult:  We’re going out soon. Do you want to wear your red shoes or your cowboy boots today?

Just like us, children want to maintain some control of their lives. This can put them in opposition to adults who are giving directions. We are then in a good position to teach children skills such as how to make choices. Giving choices does not weaken the adult position. Rather offering choices helps the child grow. Choices help children manage their own lives better, become more flexible, and learn skills for decision making and for compromising. These are higher level skills than the black and white thinking represented by yes/no responses. So think about your goal and then phrase your directions to help the child agree.


Blog Disclaimer:  Please be aware that this blog contains general information. It is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as treatment or a recommendation or prescription for a particular child. If you have questions about your child, please talk to your pediatrician or seek other professional services.