Kids need our encouragement. Life appears to be so easy for kids but if we really look back into our own childhoods it was not always as carefree as it seems. Kids don’t have a lot of control over what they can do. They have to adhere to lots of rules that make no sense to them. They can’t yet take care of themselves so they have to depend on us for many of their needs. If you really think about it, it is tough to be a kid. There are times when they may feel discouraged.
So knowing what we know about how kids feel, how can we encourage our kids?
One way to do that is to give them choices. We can use choices to help kids feel some control over their lives. We can offer choices to kids so they have some say in deciding household rules and we can also give them choices on how they take care of themselves. Choices are good for children because it gives them lots of practice in making big and little decisions.
Here are some simple ideas and examples on how to offer children choices:
To encourage a feeling of autonomy:
- Would you like macaroni and cheese or pizza for dinner?
- Would you like to go to bed now or in 5 minutes?
- Would you like to ride your bike or take a walk over to Sara’s?
To encourage involvement in making rules:
- When is a good time for you to do your homework?
- Would you like to say excuse me or pardon me when you leave the dinner table?
- What is a good amount of time for TV and the computer, a half hour at night or 45 minutes?
To encourage kids to take care of themselves:
- Do you want to take a bath or a shower?
- Do you want to use bar soap or baby soap?
- Do you want to get a blue or green toothbrush?
To encourage decision making:
- Should we paint the living room cream or yellow?
- Do you think Grandma would like tulips or roses for her birthday?
- What kind of cookies should we make for dessert, oatmeal or chocolate chip?
Kids like to have choices because it makes them feel in charge. It is hard to feel discouraged when your opinion is being sought out. When kids are offered choices they feel respected, valued and encouraged.
About the Author:
Adina Soclof is a parenting expert we really respect. Learn more from Adina about Raising Resilient Responsible Independent Children.