Too much choice?

For some reason, my 10 year old has not been enjoying his food!  I have used a few different approaches to get the food in.  This has ranged from giving him total free choice, to trying to tempt him with some special food, to giving no choice at all.

Today I was reading a chapter from Positive Psychology in a Nutshell titled ‘Freedom of Choice’. It seems that the amount of choice we have is not always a great thing.


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In 1970 a book was written by Alvin Toffler entitled Future Shock. It is amazing to see what was written then and how it relates to us now.

“The term ‘future shock’ refers to what happens when people are no longer able to cope with the profound and rapid changes and enormous amounts of information the super-industrial revolution brings with it. …………… One of the main threads running through the book is that of over choice and freedom that might, in a somewhat counter-intuitive way, take our very freedom away “. (pg 95 Positive Psychology in a Nutshell)

Overchoice is no longer a fear but a reality. For example, in 2004, the local supermarket had approximately 360 types of shampoo, conditioner, gel and mousse. (ibid page 96).


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I have known friends who have gone to the supermarket tired, stressed and fragile, who have arrived and then left with nothing due to the difficulty of making choices!

Interestingly, over the years when asked by my family how would I like to celebrate my birthday or Mother’s Day my answer has been ‘Anything, as long as I don’t have to make any decisions or choices!’


A ‘choice-free’ Mother’s Day!

There are several experiments that have been done that show that ‘instead of being liberating choice can be demotivating’. (Page 97) The more choice, the harder it is to be educated in the decision making and the more time it takes! The more choice, the more we may actually stick to what we know due to fear of the unknown.

What does this mean for the kids of today and what does this mean for us?  We are continually making decisions and choices. Sometimes it gets overwhelming! Will we make the right choice? What should I do?  There can be freedom and security in having choices made for us.

Back to my 10 year old. I have taken most of the choice of food away.  I know most of his likes and dislikes and have given him small samples of food and expected that it is eaten.  And, guess what? It has been!

What does this mean for our parenting? Our classrooms? Our relationships? I would love to hear what you think.


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3 thoughts on “Too much choice?

  1. Nice blog mum! It was an easy to understand one. I liked it. Your doings great job.
    Love you lot’s,
    Love Noah xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxoxxxxxxxxxxxx
    Find the hugs.


  2. I agree with the idea that there is overchoice. There are too many choices and not enough consequences to warrant the number of choices available. For example, with shampoo, they are probably all going to clean your hair – job done. There are so many other differences between them though that mean you could spend a long time reading all the labels and trying to find the ‘best’ one. I find choices frustrating when I know what I am looking for, but it is difficult to find (or may not even exist) amongst all the other choices. Back to the shampoo, if I have in my mind ‘I want shampoo that doesn’t dry out my scalp, doesn’t use palm oil, is made in Australia by an Australian owned company, has little to no fragrances, no SLS chemicals and hopefully not too expensive’ – try finding that amongst the 360 choices! I have to then work out which of my wants are the most important to me, and which product will deliver them. Perhaps things are backwards, it isn’t customers asking manufacturers for what they want, but manufacturers make something they hope people will want (this may involve a bit of ‘market research’), make it, market it and hope we will buy it.

    When the consequences are more severe it can be easier to make choices. I was trying to think of choices that have consequences that do matter, but I’m having trouble with that….So we have a huge number of choices each day, but very few of them have consequences that are actually going to really matter in the long run. No wonder people are ‘over’ making choices. On the bright side, we must live in a fairly safe place to be able to have that privilege. I’ve just thought of one. I’m going to go and play with my little ones now, instead of being on this computer – that will matter in the long run! Bye.


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