If offered in certain ways, choices are very beneficial to children.
First, choices give a child a sense of control or empowerment over his life. Second, the child gradually learns to exercise his muscles of problem solving. This skill will benefit him in situations when you are not around.
This does not mean your child can just do whatever he wants. For a small child, give him strict boundaries but within those boundaries allow him some control. Keep in mind you don’t keep repeating the choices like you are begging him to comply, and there are certainly times when you just need to tell him what he needs to do. However, I find that during the times when you really need him to do something, he will be more cooperative if you have given him choices at other times.
Examples of what he can choose:
- To go to bed now and get a long story or go to bed in 5 minutes and get a shorter story.
- To get 2 oranges or 3.
- To wear a blue shirt or green shirt to school.
- To leave the store hopping like a bunny or walking like a giraffe. If he still chooses not to leave, he can choose to walk out on their own or be carried out.
- To buy Cheerios or Wheaties. He can’t have free choice of everything on the shelf.
- Which toy he can play with once he gets in the bathtub.
Offering limited choices empowers your child in many ways. It also makes life easier for the parent because the child will be less rebellious.