Do you think it’s important for a child to choose what he/she wants? Do you give your toddler an option?
I think it’s so important. Giving children choices helps them feel like they have some power and control over what they do, and is a step in growing up. I know it can get frustrating at times and maybe annoying but long term you will thank yourself for raising a confident child. I am asking my daughter what does she want to eat for lunch and because she is only two and a half she won’t actually know.
But if I give her a choice she will choose one and this way I am getting somewhere most of the times and she will actually eat and enjoy it.
I am asking her if she will eat at the dinner table or by the coffee table and 9 out of 10 times she will happily sit like a normal person. But that time when she is playing and she will nibble lunch by the coffee table would have been a proper #mumfailure if I didn’t ask her opinion. Little things like this count so much for a child who is developing senses and personality.
So, making good choices is a skill that children will use for the rest of their lives. The key to giving them choices is to first decide what choices you will allow them to make.
These choices are easy to allow children to make
“Which book would you like to look at?” – easy if you show them two or three
“Do you want to use a blanket during naptime?” – show them the blanket and smile
“Would you like to use crayons or paint today?” – again, show them the choices they have
“Would you like a peanut butter sandwich or a cheese sandwich?”
ALL THESE SHOULD BE CHOICES YOU AGREE TO
DON’T offer them sandals and boots to choose from when is raining outside cause I am telling they will gladly go for sandals and you are speechless and you just lost a battle.
However, kids want and expect their parents to provide structure and make important decisions. It helps them feel safe. For this reason, too many or too big of choices can overwhelm them or put too much pressure on them.
As a parent, try and be consistent as much as you can so you won’t frustrate your little one. Giving them choices today and a set rule tomorrow does not help at all. On the contrary. It will result in them “pushing back,” questioning, or refusing to comply as a way to determine where the “real” boundaries are.
It’s not easy. I know. I got moments when I literally want to scream but to be honest I want my child to grow up independent, not being afraid of showing emotions or speak up and state her opinions.
I had few parents judging me for giving options to my daughter and I felt so frustrated but somehow I just didn’t say anything and I realised that my silence was coming from my childhood when I only had the option of this food or nothing; those boots, that jacket or that toy. Sadly instead of learning from mistakes, others give their kids the same they had when they grew up so we are raising generations of frustrated and non opinionated kids. I see parents feeding their two year old not because the child won’t eat on their own but because this way they get forced into shoving whatever food in their system. Don’t get me wrong. I have days when lunch is spoon fed for my daughter because she is busy playing and won’t stop for food. We all do it from time to time but taking the spoon away from them just because they will make a mess and they don’t yet know how to use it? Wrong. How will they ever know if not like this? They will make a mess, they will miss the mouth but next time they won’t. Next time you can go further teaching them manners and so on.
Make certain choices “rituals”
For example, when you go to the park, name two parks and they choose which one. Every Saturday morning they may choose to run errands with you or stay home. Every Friday movie night, put two movies in front of your child and let them choose one. At the library, always let them choose 5 books. At night, they can choose night light on or door open. At lunch, they can choose water or milk to drink. At dinner, they can eat the regular meal or eat Cheerios instead (or whatever choices work for your own family).
Just allow them to have a choice. It’s so much fun.