Thursday, July 31, 2014

Choices, Choices, Choices: The Importance of Giving Your Child Choices

We live in a country where we are taught every day the many blessings of our freedom. Everyone loves their independence and freedom. So, we shouldn't expect kids to feel any different. Just like any adult, they want freedom to make their own choice. Children love having choices! It allows them to feel some control.When we give our children choices we are teaching them autonomy, self-discipline, and good decision-making skills. Now, I'm not saying we have to let our kids do whatever they want. There does need to be a limit. However, it is important to allow our children choices when appropriate.

So what is appropriate? Here are some tips to help you with deciding when and how to give your child choices: 
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  • Number of Choices: You do not want to offer two many choices. Younger children can handle two choices. For example, "Would you like to do it? Or would you like me to?". As children get older the number of choices we can offer increases. For example, "You can do your homework before dinner, after dinner, or in the morning." 
  • Be Specific: Don't give open-ended choices such as, "What do you want for breakfast?". Your child may answer with "pizza" and you have now set yourself up for a battle. You can instead ask "Do you want toast and fruit, or cereal?"
  • Use time as a choice: Obviously, it's unreasonable to say, "Would you like to go to bed tonight or tomorrow?". But you can say, "What do you want to do first, brush your teeth or put on your pajamas?" 
  • Follow Through: Make sure your child follows through with the choice they made. If they decide to do their homework in the morning, wake them up to complete their homework on time. If they complain, remind them that it was their own choice. 
  • Only give choices that you are willing to give: Don't offer waffles for breakfast, if you don't want to make the waffles. 
By giving your child choices you are helping support their continued development. Just remember to make the choices appropriate for their age! 

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