Mom Tip Monday: Choices

by Heligirl on October 11, 2010

in Daily Ramblings,Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles,Positive Discipline

For parents of young kids learning to exert their independence, power struggles can pop up a hundred times an hour. Every parent can tell a story of the morning that took a century when every last thing their little one was supposed to do (and had done a million times before) suddenly became a power struggle.

An extremely effective way to both honor your child’s desire to have some control and limit power struggles is to offer choices. For instance, a 2-year-old wants to choose her own clothes. Give her a choice of this shirt or that shirt. Struggle over washing hands? Ask, Do you want to use the bar soap or the liquid soap? (This worked like a charm in our home and was totally worth supplying one of each.) Struggle getting out the door because of a coat battle? Offer two to choose from.

For very young kids, only two choices are needed. Too many choices can actually overwhelm kids. For starters, just pick two options.

The choices don’t have to be complicated and you still have some say by choosing two options you’ll accept.  However, your child will feel both a growing sense of independence (I get to choose what I want) as well as power (I have the say).

All children have an inherent need to belong and have a level of control. Offering choices early helps meet both of these needs. They feel they’re a part of the group by making decisions as well and they’re having some personal power by being able to decide.

Growing With Choices
As your child grows and develops, the choices can expand beyond simple decisions to help encourage independence and reduce power struggles.

Older kids can handle a range of things to choose from, and they can even get involved in identifying the list of choices. Offer them the opportunity to choose where the family will have dinner on family night out, what the family meal will be, or even where you’ll take a vacation.

Every time you offer your child the opportunity to make a decision, you are helping them develop a sense that they’re an active part of the family, capable and have personal power – all foundations for a high sense of self esteem.


Shell October 11, 2010 at 9:04 am

I whole-heartedly agree with this. My boys have done so much better when they are given a choice. But, if both choices are acceptable to me, then there is no big deal.

Twitter: Heligirl
October 12, 2010 at 7:21 am

This advice was like a Godsend when I got it, I tell you what. The difference was night and day.

Liz October 11, 2010 at 1:32 pm

You need to write a book about this; you could make millions! The secrets to not struggling with your kids, all on this one blog…. 🙂

Twitter: Heligirl
October 12, 2010 at 7:23 am

Ha, ha. If only. Seriously, there are some great books on these topics, as well as classes. I’d not be opposed to people paying me millions to visit here though. 🙂

Booyah's Momma October 11, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I love this strategy, and use it often! Although, the choices I give are usually ones that I would be happy with in either case. Is that cheating?
Booyah’s Momma recently posted: Anyone know how to reach Anonymous

Twitter: Heligirl
October 12, 2010 at 7:23 am

No, that’s not cheating at all! The trick is to offer choices that you accept. That way everyone is happy. 🙂

JP October 12, 2010 at 3:56 am

Jen, giving choices, as you said, is so crucial in development…another inspiring post!!…:)JP
JP recently posted: Long Lazy Afternoon Made Adenturous Part II

Twitter: Heligirl
October 12, 2010 at 7:25 am

Thanks JP. It feels good to know folks get something from my posts. Your support means so much.

Momma Drama October 15, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Can you please mentor me? One on one? For the love of pumpkins, please tell me how to get my 3 year old son to put on his own shoes EVERY day. Some days he does it no problem, but most mornings it’s “I CAN’T MOMM”.

I want to kill him. Every morning. And it ruins both our days. Do I need to buy new shoes?? Two pairs?? I got him cute socks… that didn’t work 🙁

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