Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Choices

I’m independent. Hubby’s independent. We don’t like people telling us what to do and I wouldn’t expect my child to react well with demands or under a bossy authoritative roll either.

I hated feeling like I didn't have a choice growing up. In our house it was my parents way or the highway. It was worse when my Dad put down his strict foot. It was his way or well, his way.  No questions asked, no other sides considered. Do what you are told and do it now. This is right and you are wrong. I didn’t put up a fight often because I knew it wasn’t worth it, but when you are told to do something or go somewhere it never feels good.  You feel pressured, controlled and uncomfortable.  If given the chance to make a choice on my own maybe I would made the “right” choice or maybe not. But I would have learned from those choices nevertheless. The choices I could have been given didn't have to be big choices, just something, anything to make me feel like I could think for myself.

This is where a lot of my parenting around “choices” come from.  While E is still a long way from making any big choices in life,  I want him to explore his independence and feel comfortable and supported in that role. I also want to minimize temper tantrums. It's a win-win situation.

Sometimes it’s hard. Especially those mornings where I just want him to put his boots on already inside of fish-flopping around on the floor giggling and making a game out of my building stress because I’m running late. Or those days I want him to eat his dinner and he refuses and tries to leave the table. Or the days I pick him up from day care and he doesn’t want to leave.  These are the days I try to remember to take a step back and place myself in his little shoes. These are the times that I try to remember that my little independent man just wants to feel like he has the power to make a simple choice. And choices are what I try to present him with.

Most of the time giving him a choice makes him feel more at ease, in charge and much easier to handle.  Little does he know, he doesn't usually have a choice in the end result - it's just how we get there that makes all the difference.

Every morning he is given many choices. While Mommy is in the shower, he can go play in his playroom, “sleep for 1 more minute” or cuddle in bed with Daddy. Before we leave the house he chooses between a red, orange or yellow vitamin. When I pick him up later in the day at day care I try not to walk in and say, “It’s time to go home. Let’s go.” Lately he has been resisting and has wanted to stay with his friends, especially if he is one of the first to be picked up.  Yesterday I asked, “When we get home do you want to play hockey first or do you want to help Mommy make dinner?” In answering my questions with his preferred choice he usually completely forgets about the current task of putting on his coat and boots and happily skips out the door looking forward to the choice he has made. Success. When making dinner I like to include him in meal planning and the odds are he is more likely to eat it. Last night I asked, “Should we cut up carrots or cucumber?” and we were both perfectly happy with his choice of, “Boff of fem”. 

Sometimes these choices can backfire, like when he chooses neither and says, “nufing”, instead. Or when I catch myself giving him a choice that gives him all the power by mistake like, “Do you want to go home now?”. But if I carefully give him easy choices to make with the same end result in mind, things are easier on both of us and makes for a happy little toddler.

Choices –  one of my favourite parenting tricks!

5 comments:

  1. 100% agree with you. I am a big believer in giving choices in all we do in our house.

    A simple and extremely effective way to build confidence in children and still keep on track to do what we need to do as parents.
    -brigid

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  2. If he chooses neither, then you ask "do you want Mommy to choose for you, or do you want to choose?" If he still doesn't answer, then you say "Oh, well I guess Mommy has to choose for you then!!" It seems to have worked with A. :) I love choices as well!!

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  3. Yes, confidence is a key word here!
    Thanks for the tips, Misty! Will try those out when I get myself in those sticky situations :)

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  4. I am out numbered by children so choices become important because without then feeling empowered I will drown in noise and tantrums and rebellion. And when I'm in a pinch I give the illusion of choice...they've yet to call me out yet on my 'you can have A (what I want) or B (a pathetic alternative)' ;)

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  5. I agree - this is a great technique. I would also thank them for coming places with me and behaving nicely; of course at a very young age when I said "thanks for helping me with the grocery shopping", Eve said politely, "well, I didn't really have a choice." :)

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