I strongly believe that our life is the end result of the choices we make. We have little control over the external situations and people’s reactions; however we have the ability to choose our response. The way we choose to respond to situations or other people, makes our life complicated or simple. There is never a right or wrong choice, but there are choices that can pull you away from your goals or take you closer towards them. As a parent one of the best things you can teach your child is to gift them the ability to make better choices in life. Once children learn this, they can excel and grow in life more efficiently.
Children tend to have unreasonable demands like staying in the park till 9pm or wanting an ice-cream while having fever. As parents we have two solutions to this, either we can yell and spank the child or give them choices.
You can approach your child with something like this-
“You can choose to stay in the park till 9pm or let’s leave within 10 minutes and enjoy a nice story before bedtime.”
“You can have the ice-cream now and we can extend the doses for few more days or you can wait for just two more days and we can have your favourite flavour of ice-cream.”
When you give your child a choice, you often open doors to more responsible behaviour. Children feel trusted and respected. Giving a choice is like using a magic wand and here are few ways you can use this magic wand effectively.
1. The Either/Or choice
This works wonders with young children in the age group 4-10. If your child is overwhelmed about a situation, giving them an either/or choice will help them decide. You can say something like this-
“Which subject homework would you like to complete now, Maths or English?”
“Will you have roti or rice for dinner or both?”
“You can either watch a movie or you can enjoy painting.”
When you give limited choices to your children, choosing becomes easier.
2. Time management skills
Getting my daughter ready for school was a challenging task previously. Most days she would get up late and we ended up hurrying for school, missing her handkerchief or a book or her school dairy. This continued until one day I decided to give her a choice.
This is what I said –
“Samu you can get up at 9am and we can do the morning chores hurriedly and that’s perfectly fine, but you can also choose to get up by 8am and we can get ready to school in a more relaxed manner. I am sure you will choose the best.”
The next two three days there wasn’t any change in her behaviour, but after a week I observed that she started to get up early and we managed to the morning routine smoothly.
3. Making them independent
When it comes to household chores or tidying up their rooms, children can be a little fussy. Giving them choice can help them to be more independent. This is what I say to my daughter –
“I know you like this program, so how about watching it and helping me in folding your clothes?”
“Are you picking up the toys now or 15 minutes later?”
“I am sure you like your Barbie dolls, so how about keeping them in the basket safely?”
Initially this may sound a little strange, but with practice you will notice that your child will respond more assertively.
The above mentioned ways of giving choices is something that I have tried with my daughter and they work effectively. However each child is different and the way they respond to the choices given may be different. As a parent you can choose to try these with your children and learn from their response what works best for them. The better the choices we make, the better our lives become, so let us choose to guide our children to make a ‘better choice’.
Have you ever thought about giving your children a choice? If yes, how did you manage to do it? I am eager to read your experiences and thoughts on the same.
Gayatri Aptekar is a freelance storyteller, writer, blogger and a mother to her eight year old daughter. She believes in the power of Dreams. She quit her nine year corporate career to follow her passion. A Master Practitioner of NLP, she works with children to accelerate their learning, getting them into peak performance states and coaching them to deal with the everyday challenges.
When she is not counseling students, individuals or couples, she can be found at her blog, “Outside the Kitchen Window” wielding her magical wand to pen her thoughts, poems, fictitious stories, mouth-tingling recipes and book reviews. Apart from these creative adventures, she enjoys reading, dancing, cooking and photography.