Parenting & Choices: the More Control You Give, the More Control You Get

I met Heather through a mom’s group on Facebook. I was desperate for help with Asher and his napping and she has literally saved me! Once I started communicating with her more through the group, I did what anyone would do and stalked her profile 🙂

I found  out that she is an advocate for Love and Logic. I had heard about L and L when I was a teacher and used bits and pieces of the philosophy in my classroom. It never occurred to me to think about using some of those skills when it comes time to start disciplining Asher. Heather is a wealth of knowledge as a fellow “Babywise mom” and she has shown great patience with the many moms she has helped through our mom’s group. I use the term Baby Wise loosely, though, as many of us moms use a potpourri of parenting philosophies in our homes. We just do us. What works best for us and Heather is a big encourager of this. I have seen it in her comments to other moms and the time she gives to help a mom out. If you are interested in more of what Heather has to offer, you definitely should check out her Facebook page she has listed below. I’ll let Heather finish the rest!


PARENTING & CHOICES: The More Control You Give, the More Control You Get
It’s split in the parenting world about what parents think of giving children choices.  Some parents feel like it creates choice addiction, or that kids should just do as they’re told.  Others believe giving choices empowers children in the decision-making process, thus creating a more cooperative child.  Giving my children choices is my secret weapon.  I’m a mom of two energetic, brilliant, and some may say strong-willed (gasp!) children, ages 3 and 22 months.  I am also a facilitator for the Love and Logic Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun Curriculum. I have enjoyed presenting a different way to view parenting and giving parents simple tools that are life changing.  Choices is one of those tools.

The interesting thing about control is the more you give, the more you get.  So how can we as parents use that to our advantage? The secret is giving your child small choices throughout the day so you can make “withdrawals” on the larger issues.  However, things can go very wrong if choices are not used properly.  Here are a few guidelines as you start using this powerful tool.

  1. Give 99% of choices when things are going smoothly. Don’t wait until all hell has broken loose at bedtime to start giving choices!

  2. Provide choices on issues that are not dangerous or cause a problem for any else.  Always provide two choices that you can live with.

  3. If the child does not choose in 10 seconds, choose for the child.  For example, if your child hesitates too long  when asked, “would you like milk or water?”, respond, “looks like milk.” Pour the milk. So what happens when the child throws a major fit because you chose? No problem! Respond with a simple, “I know, it’s hard.  I bet next time you’ll make a fast choice!” And move on.

  4. It never fails that your child will want to choose the invisible “Option C.” Respond by repeating your choices and choose for the child if no appropriate choice is made.

There’s two types of choices I have pinpointed- choices that really don’t matter (“red cup or blue cup?”) and choices that are preceding a power struggle.  Make sure you have lots of choices that don’t matter throughout your day! Then when you know certain situations are always power struggles, start out with a choice. “Time to take a bath! Do you want to hop like a bunny to the bathtub or crawl like a bear?”  When I do this in my home, I can actually see my child’s brain go from “NO!” to actively thinking about which choice he’s going to make. Brainstorm choices ahead of time so you will be ready when the situation arises.  Here’s a few ideas for choices you can incorporate in your daily routine.

“Would you like milk or water with breakfast?”

“Are you going to put your shirt on first or your pants on first?

“Are you going to wear your red shorts or your blue ones?”

“Do you want a story before bed or no story?”

“Do you want your night-light on or off?”

“Do you want to — now or in 2 minutes?” (This is a great choice for transitions)

“Do you want to walk to the car by yourself or do you want me to carry you?”

“Do you want to hop like a bunny or crawl like a bear to the bathroom?” (Get creative!!)

Go ahead, offer your child some choices and watch your child’s face light up as the ball is in their court! I’d love to hear some testimonies of how choices have worked for your family! Post them on my facebook page, to encourage other parents! Like the page to get more Love and Logic tips and watch videos of me using the tools with my children. Also, you are welcome to contact me through my facebook page with any questions about parenting struggles you’re facing.