Offering Children Choices
Offering Children Choices within limits.
When parents are required to make the children's problems, their problems:
• When our children are in definite danger of losing a life or limb or of making a decision that could affect them for a lifetime.
• When our children know they are in a situation they can’t handle by themselves. More importantly that they understand that we are aware that they can’t handle the situation on their own.
Nothing in parenting is guaranteed, however, the odds of raising responsible children go up when we take thoughtful risks. We do that when we allow our children to fail. Unless we allow them fail, we cannot allow them to choose success.
Instead of telling the children what to do, parents put the burden of decision making on their kid’s shoulders. They establish options within limits, and then let them decide.
As parents, this means we must allow for failures and help our kids make the most of them when they are under our care and guidance, and the price is affordable. This means they can pick themselves up and try again. As our children grow older, the bigger their decisions become and the graver the consequences of those decisions.
By the time our children reach their teens, we want them to be familiar with making good decisions.
Why choices work
First and foremost, there are rules when giving choices:
1) Always select choices that you as the parent approve of and can live with.
2) Never give a choice unless you are willing to allow the child to experience the consequence of the choice.
3) Never give choices when a child is in any kind of danger whatsoever.
4) Always give only two verbal choices, but make sure the child knows there is an implied third choice. If they don’t decide, then you will decide for them.
5) Your delivery of the choices are important and should be started with:
• “Feel free to --- or ---.”
• “You are welcome to ---or ---.”
• “Would you rather --- or ----.”
• “What would be best for you, --- or ---?”
The reason why choices work is that is forces kids to think about a particular situation. They are given the option to contemplate and to then choose a course of action. They must decide! It also provides them the opportunity to learn from the consequences of their mistakes. With every wrong choice they make, the punishment comes from their bad decision, not from the parents. Then, children don’t get angry with us, they get angry with their bad decisions.
Replacing punishment with Consequences.
Dealing with consequences instead of punishment. allow for a far greater, meaningful learning opportunity for our children. When we punish our children, we provide them with a great escape route, an escape from the consequences of their actions. They never have to think when they are being punished. They don’t have to change their behavior. They think, I’m doing my time for the wrongdoing. Their anger is directed at us: the punisher. When a child has been punished, they become defensive and argumentative. They spend their time thinking about how their parents have wronged them, building up resentment. They are so drunk on emotion that they cannot even begin to try and reason why they have been punished.
As parents we want our kids to hurt from the inside out. This happens when we allow the consequences to do the teaching. Consequences enable kids to think very hard about their responsibilities and their behavior. It also helps remind them about the results of bad decisions.
Rose De Freitas
Feel free to e-mail Rose with your questions or to find out more about her courses and workshops.
While parenting books and articles can be extremely resourceful, it is highly recommended that parents attend an effective parenting program with an experienced facilitator.
Too much information can be extremely overwhelming for parents, and it is very difficult to gauge the success of the new techniques being implemented. By attending workshops, the facilitator is able to monitor any misunderstanding or misuse of the concepts, tools and techniques provided in the parenting program.