All children need to feel empowered. One of the best ways to empower them is by giving them choices. When children are given choices, they feel like they have some control over their lives and that they can make decisions that affect them. This builds autonomy and helps them learn how to make good choices. In this blog post, we will discuss the benefits of giving children choices and provide tips for how you can do it in your own home!
One of the biggest triggers to meltdown is giving too much leeway in the choices. Either a fight ensues because the choice made is not ok with the parent or the child is just overwhelmed with the number of choices. Remember the last time your spouse and you were thinking about what to have for dinner. What do you want-no what do you want, and you could feel the anxiety building. Same is for our kids.
Tip 1 -For younger kids, only give 2 choices. The child will have some feeling of power in their own life as far as what they would like. They are surrounded by big people. These big people have a lot of power in everything in their lives. Sometimes, this is overwheming for a child and can lead to a meltdown. Even giving a choice once a day can go a long way.
Tip 2- Only offer options for the choices that you as the parent are ok with. These choices should be equally ok. Once we start weighting options, it becomes more of manipulation and not free choice making.
Tip 3- Just as in life, the choice should have a time limit. Not making a choice, is making a choice. Make sure to let your child know that they have say 5 minutes to make the choice after that the decision will be made for them. This sets expectations and helps to avoid meltdowns. Sometimes setting a timer and having it counting down can be a fun game!
Tip 4-Let them know in advance the consequences of their choices so they know what to expect and understand it came from their choice. We do this with our TIP system every class. The kids are reminded that whether they get their TIP is based on their choices. If they choose to listen and participate then they will earn their TIP. If they don’t and they get 3 warnings, then they chose not get their TIP. It only works if the expectations are established in the beginning. This leads to accountability and self management.
Giving children choices is a great way to empower them. It helps them learn how to make decisions and build autonomy. By following the tips above, you can give your children choices in a way that is beneficial for both of you! Try it out and see how it goes!
Do you have any tips to add? How do you give your children choices in a way that works for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!