The Wheel of Choice

The Wheel of Choice

by | Jul 1, 2023

A tool for problem-solving

There is a place in our classroom with some special tools that children use to solve their conflicts: the peace rose, “Bug&Wishes”, a Feeling Face Chart, and a Positive Discipline toolkit for kids. I often observe kids looking at the tool cards with interest.

This week, during the work cycle, I spotted a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy with one of the tool cards at their table. They were creating their own “Wheel of Choice”. The girl told me that she had a problem at home these days with her mommy as she didn’t want to brush her teeth. She came up with two solutions to add to her “wheel of choice”: brushing her teeth softly around her moving tooth or using a softer toothbrush… The boy decided to copy the “Anger Wheel of Choice” tool card to use it at home when he gets angry at his brother.

A Wheel of Choice is a child-created prompt that helps children find solutions independently.

The Wheel of Choice teaches children and adolescents how to solve common social problems independently by focusing on solutions. It is simply a list of suggestions created by children that they can use when they need help solving a problem. The Wheel of Choice works best when it isn’t the only option.

Creating a Wheel of Choice at home (age three and older)

From The Positive Discipline Workbook, by Jane Nelsen:

“It is important that children are involved in the creation of their Wheel of Choice. Involvement enhances feelings of belonging, significance, and capability. Involvement also increases motivation to use what has been created.

  1. Sit at a table with paper and pencil and ask your child for ideas of what he or she could do when feeling frustrated, sad, or hurt. What would help him or her feel better (calm down) or that would be a 
 solution to the problem?
  2. Write down every suggestion.
  3. When your child has mentioned everything he or she can think of, show him or her the Wheels of Choice on the next page to see if there is anything he or she would like to add.
  4. On another sheet of paper or tag board, draw a big circle with pie pieces. (If your child is old enough, let him or her do it.)
  5. Ask your child if he or she would like to draw pictures that represent each choice, or would like to find clip art on the computer.
  6. When the chart is finished, let your child hang it in a prominent place.

Laura Beth’s (and Jake’s) success story: Jake (3 years old) used his Wheel of Choice (above) today. Jake and his sister (17 months old) were sitting on the sofa sharing a book. His sister, took the book and Jake immediately flipped his lid. He yelled at her, grabbed the book, and made her cry. She grabbed it back as I slowly walked in. I asked Jake if he’d like to use his Wheel Of Choice to help—and he actually said YES! He chose to “share his toys.” He got his sister her own book that was more appropriate for her and she gladly gave him his book back. They sat there for a while and then traded!”


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