Children Listening – Offering Choices

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 16,823
    Childcare Expert Patti Cancellier discusses offering choices.

    Patti Cancellier: Hi, I am Patti Cancellier, the Education Coordinator and Parent Educator, for the Parent Encouragement Program. I am talking about why children don't listen and now I'll discuss the importance of offering choices to your children. One of the ways to give some positive power to a child, while still asking him or expecting him to do something is to phrase your request in terms of a limited choice. Just having a choice gives the child a sense of some control over himself and the situation. Now, I'm not suggesting that you give a choice about whether or not to do something. It's about how or possibly when to do it. So for example, young children are often not very eager to take a bath and getting them to the bathroom can be a challenge. It's easy to get into the habit of repeating your request and chasing the child around the room. Instead at bath time, go to the child and offer this choice; would you like to take a bath now or in 5 minutes? It's up to you, you decide. Well naturally, he'll say 5 minutes. Even if he has no concept of direness. Set the timer so that it announces the time to take a bath and when it goes off, be at his side, taking his hand and offer another choice about how to get to the bathroom. Should we hop like bunnies or crawl like puppies, or would you like to take a bath with toys or bath crayons? What you're saying as you're walking him to the bathroom already. Now, parents always tell me they've tried to offering choices but sometimes their child doesn't want either of the things you've offered. She wants something else. So for example, it's your turn to get breakfast ready on a school and a working morning and your child sits down at the table and you offer her two things that she likes and that you can provide in the short amount of time you both have. Honey, Would you like cheerios or peanut butter toast for break fast? Now her response is, mom I do really like blueberry pancakes with warm maple syrup, and for a moment, you consider making the pancakes, because after all, your mother made you a hot meal every morning for breakfast. However, that's the permissive parenting talking. There isn't enough time to make pancakes and the two choices you offered meet the needs of the situation. So your response would be; blueberry pancakes maybe a choice on the weekend but the choice this morning is cheerios or peanut butter toast, which would you like? That's the last thing you say, until she makes up her mind. If she's still arguing, sit down and start eating your breakfast with a friendly look on your face. That communicates to her that there will be no negotiation over breakfast this morning and that it's up to her to make the best of the choices offered. You are also showing her that you have confidence in her to make that choice. Okay, we've talked about how to use limited choices to make your request heard and considered by your child. We've also discussed what to do when a child tries to negotiate a third choice. Next I'll discuss how to limit power struggles between you and your child.