Oh look!? A post with substance.

In my last post Jen left a comment about choices.? What she actually said was,

That is a good idea to decide ahead of time what he gets to make choices about. I will have to think about that some more.

Similarly Nancy wrote a post recently about Grace and choices. (go read that post because it is a fantastic description of freedom in the baby home or lack thereof versus freedom in a forever home.)

As many of you know I’m a firm believer in raising my child to think for himself.? Society has warped us into believing that we have to do everything for our children.? We have to constantly praise them.? For the love of Pete in some tee ball leaugues every kid gets a trophy so no one feels left out.? We give goody bags at birthday parties again, so no one feels left out.

I want my child to know there are winners and losers.? It’s part of life.? Someone is going to get the job over you.? There are no secondary positions single openings.? And they certainly don’t give you a goody bag just for showing up for the interview.

We teach this at a three year old level.? It’s called choices and logical consequences.? Take for example this morning.? Every morning in our house is a battle to get dressed, that’s a given.? (If you are somewhere wondering what Elle is doing and it is roughly 8:00 a.m. pacific time, just know I’m ripping my hair out listening to my child whine that he doesn’t want to get dressed.)? One of the boy’s favorite activities is watching people pull out of our driveway, especially his father.? The boy was dawdling and the trusty husband had to leave so he just left.? The boy pitched a major fit because he wanted to watch daddy leave.? Cause and a effect.? He screwed around so he missed his opportunity.? Logical wouldn’t you say?? (our normal cause and effect is I will strip him down to his birthday suit and leave the room.? He hates to be naked.? Takes him 3 minutes to get dressed then)

The point of all of this is choices.? We give the child every opportunity to make his own choices.? He picks what he wants for breakfast, lunch and snacks.? He picks his own clothes out.? But we didn’t bring him home and start giving him complete freedom.? We started slowly.

Once he could communicate we would give him one of two options.? “Do you want oatmeal or cereal (cream of wheat) for breakfast?”? “Would you like strawberry or peach yogurt?”? “Do you want the blue shirt or the green shirt?”? When he mastered that he learned what the options were at any given moment.? He knows that for breakfast his choices are waffles, cereal, oatmeal, Os or eggs.? More importantly he knows he cannot have Os on a school day.? So during the school year he would ask if it was a school day.? He also knows that when it’s a weekend he gets the added options of donuts (only once a month) and pancakes.? He knows what the options are for lunch and for snack.? Because we’ve taught him.

Choices give him the opportunity to flex his freedom.? And it gives us pride in knowing that he’s on the path to thinking for himself.? I encourage everyone to give their child choices if you don’t already, but my advice is start very small.

10 Comment

  1. Jenny2 says: Reply

    Peanut Butter Spaghetti?

    Can I have another choice?

    🙂 Have a great 4th of July!

  2. Carrie says: Reply

    It’s great that giving choices works so well for you. I’ve found that it works well with one of my girls and NOT AT ALL with the other one! (the boy is still to young to be the tie breaker…)

    Princess (so aptly nicknamed), even at the age of almost 8, finds having choices Too. Much. Pressure… especially when neither choice is exactly what she wants. And it doesn’t help when you don’t limit her options… ask her what she wants for lunch and you’ll be there all day while she upset she can’t have something we don’t have the fixins for and then can’t decide from the options we have availble… Ahhhh!

    Every kid is different!

  3. Obviously, being 11, Slugger is able to make a lot more choices for himself. But it’s still important to limit it. It’s funny though, because his background (where he either had too much freedom (birth family) or none whatsoever (adoptive family)) rears its head. Whenever I ask if he’d like A or B, he always and inevitably says C. I respond that C wasn’t a choice. Would you like A or B? He’ll think and respond D. It’s annoying as all hell. Whatever I limit his choices to, he will avoid choosing one of those. I usually just say “one more chance and then I’m choosing for you.” Then he’ll pick. So annoying.

  4. Wendy says: Reply

    Hey, wait, aren’t those stupid goody bags supposed to be instead of thank you notes? I mean, here, have a bag of crappola and thank you very much for coming. Does this mean I still have to write thank you cards? Can I have another choice???

  5. Lauri says: Reply

    I agree with starting small, and giving the choice options, not just asking ” what do you want”

    great advice, never ask ” are you ready for bed”, you instead say ” It’s bedtime now, lets go choose your jammies”

    You only give a choice when you as a parent are fine with the outcome.

  6. Tricia says: Reply

    I am reading “Parenting with Love and Logic” right now. I’m sure you have read it, but if you haven’t … it’s a must if you believe in choices and having your child develop a sense of independence and confidence!

    This is my new favorite discipline / child-rearing book.

  7. Jenni says: Reply

    We also do the choices parenting. And it has had two beneficial effects. 1) It teaches out children to think for themselves and deal with the consequences (good and bad) of their choices. 2) It takes the stress off of us always having to make choices for the kids. Sometimes it just becomes a control battle, that frankly, is not worth engaging in.

  8. I think choices are essential. Sometimes I get into trouble by presenting them, but it does teach the czar about the real world. Can’t have everything on the menu…

  9. I’m all about choices…but I’m also all about limiting those choices to options that I can live with. When presenting a child with options, I might throw out 3 things that I find appropriate rather than leaving it open to anything (depends on the child’s age). With Sabrina, I simply present her with 2 things and let her choose 1 of them but that is age appropriate.

    I agree – kids need to learn to think for themselves and to understand there are winners and losers (the everyone gets a trophy and good bag things drive me nuts).

  10. Rhonda says: Reply

    Couldn’t agree more. I always make sure I don’t give them the option to pick a choice that I don’t want. I’ve caught myself on that a few times…

    Also, these things are important! This new millennial generation coming into the workforce is entirely different because they have been raised in the only-positive households. And let me tell you, we are teaching them things like how to show up to work on time, and consequences for missing a deadline, etc. They’ve never had consequences. It blows me away.

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