The Gift of Choice For Our Grandkids

Small Choices, Small Consequences

The “Small” Choice

I heard a story a few weeks back about a gentleman that went on a business trip to South America.

“The very first night there at the end of the conference, the “big boss” of the agency announced a special activity for that night. Sure that everyone would appreciate his proposal, he proclaimed proudly: “To show you how much we appreciate you, tonight we invite all of you to a special night out, visiting the bars in the city, famous for a special cocktail drink. We will all taste the different variations of that drink and vote which bar makes the best version. There will be a contest and a winner. And don’t worry, it’s all on me, my special treat for you.”

As everyone applauded his plan, he added a rhetorical question: “Anyone not coming? Say it now or never!”

As everyone applauded again, I thought how embarrassing it would be to say anything in front of all those people, to contradict the boss’s expectation that this was an incredible offer.

Nevertheless, in a matter of seconds I decided what to do. I raised my hand, the only one who did. Then, in an intimidating way, he asked what I had to say. I had never heard a silence so loud before in my life!

I said: “Sir, I thank you for your generous offer, but I will not join you all tonight.”

After another silence, even more silent than I thought possible, he asked, “Why?” In that moment, I could have come up with some good excuses—that I was sick or had an important phone call to make to the other side of the world or any other reason that would have saved me from obvious embarrassment. But I said the simple truth, that as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I don’t drink alcohol.”

In a follow up story years later. this same “big boss” came to Europe where the before mentioned gentleman now lived and worked. This time things were different. After a brief opportunity to speak with him the boss offered him a regional management job and said “We look not only at good qualifications. We need people with integrity, who stand for their principles. We need people like you.”  Not so small right?

Choice & grandkids

So what can we do to help our grands learn about choice while the consequences are small?

I found a great article and approach over at 

In her article she uses a 4 pronged approach to helping them draw out or see the choice and the consequence for that choice.

I love this outline. One thing I would add to this is that I would also use this to show them that there are also positive consequences to their actions – so create a form that says – Good choice/ what I did / consequence / what did this get me.

By teaching them that consequences DON’T have to always be bad but that they just “are” helps to take away the feeling of punishment and removes a lot of the negative emotion.

Learning that natural consequences follow all our actions both good and bad in much the same way night follows day helps them to integrate it in an entirely new way.

Positive Consequences need to be pointed out

  1. You did something the first time I asked > You get more free time
  2. You picked up the toys > I’ll bring out more toys the next time you come
  3. You helped me clean the kitchen > screen time while I make some dinner
  4. You were kind to your brother > reading time with grandma
  5. You served someone > Point out how they feel

One thing you could do is create a positive consequence bucket with popsicle sticks with positive consequences for that particular grandchild. Not all consequences are natural – so when your grandchild is doing something you want to make them aware of – they can draw a positive consequence stick out of the jar and you can help them recognize the rewards for positive behavior.