Sep 182012

Sometimes when kids are learning new routines, schedules or chores they start off strong… and then hit a series of bumps in the road. Cooperation is replaced by: “I forgot.”  “I don’t want to.”  “I can’t.” With a families’ busy schedules, this phenomenon can be particularly frustrating if you’ve begun to rely on your child taking care of this particular activity without supervision… or we can use it as a chance to build work out our “choice” muscles.


[Tweet “If you don’t want to go “back to square one” consider giving kids choices. Lots of them.”]

That’s right, if you don’t want to go “back to square one,” consider giving the kids some choices.  Lots of them. I’m not talking about  “will you” or “won’t you”, “yes” or “no”, or any other potentially polarizing choice… but one that works more like an open question does.

Let’s assume that the resistance is showing up around bedtime.

  • “Are you planning to take your shower tonight or in the morning?”
  • “Are you going to brush your teeth before or after you put on your jammies?”
  • “Do you want the red pajamas or the yellow ones?”
  • “Do you want Aunt Cindy to read your story or do you want me to do it?”
  • “Do you want to hear Goodnight Moon or The Lorax?”

You get the idea.  It’s also a great way to model choice-making.

[Tweet “”Do you want the red pajamas or the yellow ones?” Choices. Lots of them.”]

Whether about bedtime, tooth brushing, walking the dog or taking out the trash, you have an opportunity to avoid the heated discussion for which your child has prepared.  Instead, you’re giving choices…  not about IF the activity will be accomplished but HOW.

When invited to an argument, using this strategy can help a parent choose not to attend.  That’s a powerful model… and a skill that will serve them well for a long, long time.  The choice is yours.


  7 Responses to “Voice the Choice”

  1. Love the simplicity and straightforwardness of both the article and the advice. From my experience, it works with people of all ages and it’s a lot more respectful than those either/or’s.

    • Thanks — especially for “it works with people of all ages.” In my experience, most good relationship advice does. You made my day.

  2. Great article, Andrea — reminds me of the earlier years when I would offer choices to my younger kids. I love that giving them a choice felt empowering to them. It also added to my skill of patiently waiting because picking between the red jammies and the yellow ones could take foooooooorever! 😉

  3. yes, yes, yes!! Choices!! I learned this when my oldest daughter was 2 and it came to getting dressed. OMG. If I didn’t want melt down after melt down, I learned to pick two outfits and give her the choice. She loved making her own choices and as long as I gave her things that I was cool with to choose from, we were both happy! Thank God she’s 30 and I don’t have to do that anymore 😉

  4. I agree with Terri ~~ this does work for all ages!!!!! 🙂 Powerful!

    • Those are my favorite ‘strategies’ — the ones that work for our kids AND let parents practice our own skills. (There’s the added advantage of being great modeling!) Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  5. I completely agree with this approach. From as young as two years old, when my children could understand simple sentences and phrases, I would provide them with options and not just when things get crazy. Even when there is full cooperation it’s important for children to know that their opinion matters and they have a voice.

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