How I got started with Giving my Toddler Choices and How you Can Too
E loves being the boss on most days. He wants everything his way or nothing at all. Of course, we know and understand the issue with this. If it were up to him all the time the house would be a mess and I get to watch him do dangerous stunts off the couch and bed. My little daredevil loves to do things that give mommy little heart attacks. I still let him be him but in a much safer way and environment. I am an avid reader. Especially when it comes to researching how to help my child thrive. He is getting older and starting to show more signs of wanting to be independent.
I have read a lot about giving toddler choices and the benefits of letting kids have choices early on in their development. Here are some things I have learned along the way of trying this out myself with my own child.
Let Your Child Be in Control
Let them believe they have control over certain things. For example, what they want to wear the next day. Even if the outfit does not fit your style it will make them feel so happy they got to choose for once. My son loves our clothes he dresses up in daddies suits and shoes and pretends he’s going to work. Start out with two choices and you can move up as they get the hang of it. E sometimes does not care and will not give me a choice because he doesn’t like any of the choices I give him. I have to switch it up from time to time until I get it right. Which is ok. What matters during the exercises is that your child is controlling what is going on. It also works with discipline.
You: You can choose to pick up your toys and we go to the park
You: can choose not to pick up your toys and then we do not go to the park
So this works with food, clothes, toys, places, Just about anything. The more choices they can choose from the better off they feel. It seems so simple but we can get pretty busy sometimes and be in a rush and miss learning opportunities because we just want to go go go. Take a step back and listen to your child. You might be surprised at how well it works. It is not a perfect system yes sometimes they will throw a fit no matter if they got to choose or not and yes some choices might be overwhelming and in those cases yes make a decision for them. I am not saying do not make decisions for your kids because in most cases you have to. Just give them some choices, a few choices to start out with and be consistent with those that you choose.
Teaches the Child Consequences
Using (either/ or) language or (when/then) helps with emotional outbursts or tantrums. You are giving the choice to behave the first time by saying either you do that or this will happen. With when/ then …language you say When you finish your chores then you can have ice cream. This is not bribing. Bribing would be Here is some ice cream please do your homework. It is not correcting a behavior but seeking a positive from a positive behavior.
Gives your Child a Sense of Responsibility
Our hope is to raise our kids the best we can and make them incredible human beings who are respectful and responsible. Giving a child a choice and letting them feel a sense of responsibility at an early age is a gift they will never forget and will be able to use for the rest of their life. It might seem small at the time but it means something much bigger when it comes to them making big choices later on. It might be milk or juice today but later it could mean school or no school… this job or that job. When you stop and think about it like that the choice seems simple. We can always try our best because the small things are actually the big things that matter most.
Ask Questions and Go over Scenarios that could Occur
By asking questions and going over Scenarios of what happens when they choose certain decisions sets them up for problem-solving which is an important skill throughout life. Teaching children Problem solving early on is a good thing. Examples of scenarios
Susan took Tommy’s toy and Tommy is upset what should Tommy do? Tommy could grab the toy back from Susan and it could start a fight or Tommy could tell Susan how it made him feel when she took the toy without asking. What should Tommy do? What would you do?
Mommy is talking to an adult and you need to tell mommy something… what should you do? Interrupt mommy and the adult talking or politely pat mommy and wait your turn?
Letting them know the correct responses beforehand not only helps them with problem-solving it lowers the chance of possible tantrums or upset feelings. I will say this again it is hard when you first start … not to make this a habit… we snap at our children at the moment … we are rushed and busy it is hard to take that couple of minutes to explain every little thing. It does make a difference when we do take that time to explain. We forget they are little people and need extra time to process information we have had practice with for years. Be gentle. Be patient. I need to slow down and take my own advice and on those days that I do… it warms my heart because my son is calm… he shows me he understands… he feels heard and I feel heard and everyone is happy!
Comment below and let me know do you do this? How is it going? Do you have something to add? I would love to know your thoughts! Thanks for stopping by!