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
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!