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Helping Toddlers Make Decisions

Sarah Cohen, 2, can have a tough time figuring out breakfast, and her mom, Jessica Honikman, is over feeling like her short-order cook. "She'll say she wants yogurt, then decide on cereal," says the New York City mom. "I don't want to push my choices on her, but she's really hard to keep up with!"

Like Sarah, most toddlers struggle with making -- and sticking with -- simple decisions. Martha Edwards, Ph.D., of the Ackerman Institute for the Family in New York City, says it's because they waver between seeking guidance and striking out on their own. To help them:

Limit her options
Instead of expecting your child to say exactly what she wants, save yourself time (and aggravation!) by giving her two simple options. She'll feel great because she's had a say.

Don't say no
If your toddler starts digging in her heels, help defuse the power battle by using phrases like "Not a good idea" or "Let's try this instead," says Edwards.

Review her choices
Encourage your kid to share likes and dislikes. It'll swell her with pride and help her understand her preferences.