Choice is what separates citizens of a democracy from those inhabiting a fascist regime, or a 1984 dystopia. The important factor when teaching children about choices is consequence, or cause and effect. When teaching choice, it is important for kids to realistically accept the different outcomes that can result from positive and negative choices. Though it's a serious topic, many fun activities can teach kids about choices.
Box of Clothes
This is a great activity to teach children about the consequences of their decisions. Begin by placing a large box of clothes on the floor and explaining to the children that they’re going to take part in an activity, but first they must each choose one piece of clothing from the box in the center of the room. Make sure the box has a number of outlandish fashion choices and outfits likely to make the children cringe. Now give the children a moment to share their choice with one another before explaining to them that that is the outfit they are going to be wearing for the rest of the day. The goal of the exercise is to show kids that sometimes the initial choice seems like a humorous idea until you have to live with the consequences that follow. Then discuss why the exercise isn’t fair. It works because many of the kids will choose the ugliest or flashiest thing they can find. Ask them how their decision might have been different had they known what the exercise was.
One way to teach children about choices is to present them with options, and preparing a meal is full of options. Start by giving your children some options for dinner. Once they make their decision, break the news that they’ll be doing the cooking. This is a good way to teach kids to appreciate your cooking, not only because they’ll have to do the actual cooking, but because it might not taste like they want it to if they choose the more complicated dinner choice. Have the kids plan the entire meal, including side dishes, making sure that they are making balanced choices along the way.
Have an open discussion with your children about work, money, and consequence. Begin by describing a character who wants to buy something and have the children list off some items they might like to buy. Then ask the children possible ways to obtain that item including asking for money, getting a job, and stealing the item. Continue branching out until you have an expanded list with a number of possible outcomes for each decision. Once they’ve discussed having a job, explain that you have extra money and you need somewhere to put it. Then have the children list options for money management. This is also a good opportunity to teach children about banking and the pros and cons of the American banking system.