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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Offering Choices: Benefits of Choice-Making for Children

Benefits of Choice-Making for Children

Providing choices can be a great behavioral strategy to help children learn new skills and reduce maladaptive behaviors. Providing choices to children can even improve on-task behaviors.

Choice-Making and its Benefits

There are many reasons why choice-making can be beneficial to kids. Let’s look at a few of the reasons why it’s a good idea to offer choices to children.

Contacting Higher Quality Reinforcers

Providing the opportunity to make choices can give the child an opportunity to contact higher quality reinforcers.

Increasing Variability of Reinforcement

Providing choice-making opportunities can also give the child variability in reinforcement. They can then have experiences with greater amounts of reinforcers and different types of reinforcers.

Strengthening the Effects of Reinforcement

Having the opportunity to access a variety of reinforcers can strengthen the effects of reinforcement contingencies. This outcome is, in part, related to the idea that kids will be less likely to satiate on any one particular reinforcer.

Choice-Making Itself Can Be Reinforcing

Additionally, choice-making is beneficial because making choices itself can be reinforcing to a child. The act of making choices and having the opportunity to make choices can be reinforcing. When having the option to make a choice, a child may be more likely to participate in activities (Tiger, et. al., 2006 as cited in Sellers, et. al., 2013).

Consider the Individual When Using Choice-Making

Although the potential benefits of choice-making may apply to many children, some children do not benefit in the same ways. For instance, some children, in some situations, may not experience the opportunity to make a choice as a reinforcer while other kids may, in fact, find choice-making itself reinforcing.

Because every person has their own individualized response to choice-making opportunities, it is important to consider the individual child when planning to use choice-making.

For instance, sometimes it may be better to offer choice-making in general to increase on-task behavior but other times you may need to be sure to plan in opportunities the allow the child’s choice-making to lead to access to more highly preferred stimuli (Sellers, et. al., 2013).

Sellers, T.P., Bloom, S.E., Samaha, A.L., Dayton, E., Lambert, J.M. and Keyl‐Austin, A.A. (2013), EVALUATION OF SOME COMPONENTS OF CHOICE MAKING. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 46: 455-464. doi:10.1002/jaba.46

Offering Choices: Benefits of Choice-Making for Children

Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA

Heather is a freelance writer, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and social worker. Heather takes interest in topics related to parenting, children, families, personal development, health and wellness, applied behavior analysis, as well as Autism, ADHD, Depression and Anxiety. Contact Heather if you would like to inquire about obtaining her freelance writing services. You can view more articles and resources from Heather at and email her at [email protected] You can also advertise your autism services at one of Heather's websites: Heather is the developer of the "One-Year ABA Parent Training Curriculum."


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APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2019). Offering Choices: Benefits of Choice-Making for Children. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from