One way that we can do that is to give children choices. Choices help kids feel that they have some control over their lives. We can offer choices to kids so they have some say in making simple everyday decisions and deciding household rules. Choices are good for children because it gives them lots of practice in making big and little decisions. It is also a parenting technique that is relatively easy to implement.
Giving children choices hands some control over to the child without compromising the adult’s authority — a win/win situation. Implicit in the choice is the fact that the child needs to fulfill the task, but gets to choose how it will be accomplished. Giving choices diffuses conflict and lets children assert their independence in a healthy way. It exercises their brains by making them think and solve problems. It is an extremely effective technique to use with independent, defiant children and toddlers.
We can start small by giving children choices about simple everyday decisions:
Would you like a pancakes or cereal for breakfast?
Do you want to make the sandwich for lunch or should I?
Which park should we go to? The big one or the little one?
We can then move on and have children get involved in making rules for the household:
When is a good time for you to take out the garbage?
Would you like to say excuse me or pardon me when you leave the dinner table?
How much time should we allot for electronics in our home?
Finally, we can give children choices to encourage decision making:
Do you think Aunt Sara would like a gift card to Amazon or her favorite department store?
Should we go to Washington DC or Niagra Falls for our vacation?
What’s the best way to go to your friend’s house? Which route should we take?
Teachers, tutors and therapists can also give children choices:
Task: Do you want to start with the Playdoh or the computer?
When: What do you want to do 1st and what do you want to do 2nd?
Where: Do you want to work on the desk or at the table?
Refusal: Do you want to stop now or keep on going?
Reward: Do you want a sticker or a prize from the prize box?
Materials: Do you want to use pencil or markers?
Kids like to have choices because it makes them feel in charge. When kids are offered choices they feel respected, valued and encouraged. Adults like giving children choices because they are still able to maintain their authority.
What choices do you give your children?
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