Real Life Experts on… Partnering in Supported-Decisionmaking in Early Childhood

January 16, 2017 - 2 minutes read

In the latest issue of Partnering Together, we put together ideas and resources for using supported decision-making. In addition, our Real Life Experts share their perspectives on aspects of supported decision-making across the LifeCourse. Below, is an excerpt from the Early Childhood column, written by MOF2F Family Leader, Tara Zahlner

Early Childhood life stage iconAre you considering my safety and protection without making me overly dependent or taking away my right to be self-determined?

Photo: Tara (right) with her son and husband

I will never forget one morning we built a square nest out of blankets and pillows on the floor. Instead of putting all the toys in his reach, I put one in each corner and just watched to see what he would do. What choice would he make? I sat and watched my little boy kick and roll and fling his body in one direction or the other to get to the toy he wanted. He chose which toy to play with, which sound he wanted to hear. He made conscious and self-directed choices. I learned something that day: AJ might not make choices the same way I make them, BUT AJ CAN MAKE CHOICES. We started presenting multiple food options. We began allowing AJ the power to make his own decisions.

Today, we let AJ play freely with his toys. We present different food options and the one that he stares at longer is the one he gets. We are learning his noises and mannerisms so we can clearly understand when he is rejecting an option. We are allowing our son the chance to communicate his choices to us and we are seeing incredible progress as his self-determination increases.

Graphic: photo of Tara, a MOF2F Real Life Expert and Family LeaderTara,
Kansas City, MO
Tara is a MOF2F Family Leader from the Kansas City area.
Her son, AJ, is almost two years old.

Read Tara’s full column and check out what the other Real Life Experts had to say in our latest issue at

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