Activities on Teaching Children About Likes & Dislikes

By Kathryn Rateliff Barr
One look at her face and you know she doesn't like it.
One look at her face and you know she doesn't like it.

Everyone has likes and dislikes, from the types of food and drink you prefer to television shows, music and activities. Likes and dislikes activities can teach vocabulary, encourage kids to try new things, help them learn to read facial expressions or teach math percentage skills. Because the activities often feel like games, it is easy to engage kids in the activities.

Vocabulary

Kids can expand their vocabulary by talking about what they like and don’t like. For example, give your child pictures of various foods or activities. Have her say whether she likes, dislikes, loves, hates or feels neutral about what is pictured. Your child must give three reasons for her preferences. Alternatively, have her practice using superlatives and comparatives, such as “I like it best,” "I like this better,” I hate that more” and "I hate this the most.” She can rank something she likes best at the top of a stack with what she dislikes the most at the bottom.

Math

Many people share the same likes and dislikes. You can create math activities using likes and dislikes. Hold up a card, say a word or flash a picture of something on the projector. Have family members or a group of friends indicate by raised hands if they like, dislike or feel neutral about the item. Mark the appropriate number in each of three categories. Have your child render the number of likes, dislikes and neutrals in percentages, fractions, pictographs or in a pie chart. He can combine elements and create new charts of people who like apples and pears, for example, but not apples and bananas.

Nonverbal Skills

Sometimes you can read whether a person likes or dislikes something by the look on her face or how she reacts to it. For example, you might back away from something you really don’t like and run eagerly forward for something you adore. Your child can practice reading body language by watching how someone responds to an item, such as making a tightly puckered face for a food she doesn’t like. Give your child a card with a word on it and have her indicate by body language whether it’s something she likes or dislikes. Challenge her to think of different ways to indicate pleasure or displeasure, such as waving hands in front of her face, or using outstretched hands with wiggling fingers. Alternatively, you mime the word and response and have your child try to guess the item and your preference.

Tolerance

Sometimes people decide they like or dislike something without every trying it or knowing something about it. For example, your child might display a dislike for a specific food or person based on looks or smell. Show pictures of the same person dressed shabbily and then all decked out. Try the same thing with a purple-fleshed tomato and a red one. Encourage him not to judge by outward appearances as to whether he likes or dislikes something. You can also wrap a borrowed dust jacket from a book about puppies onto a book about engine repair. Remind him to experience something deeper before deciding if he likes or dislikes it.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.