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The Power of Choice

How to Boost Your Kids' Cooperation by Offering Choices


Offering your children choices is an excellent strategy to have in your parenting "tool kit." If you make an effort to be genuine with the choices you offer, you will communicate respect for your children at the same time, which will result in greater cooperation and overall peace. Here are some strategies to apply when offering choices to your children:

1. Offer choices when you can.

Let's face it. Much of your child's day includes following directions. As parents, we tell our kids when to be ready, where to go, and how to behave. At school, their entire day is scheduled around following "orders." So when you can, give your child options. This might be something as simple as "Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt?"

2. Offer choices that you can live with.

For example, you might ask, "Do you want a banana or apple slices?" This narrows down the options and gives your child some say in the matter.

3. When possible, give your child time to make a positive decision.

Learning how to make the right decision takes time, and sometimes our kids just need a little space to come to the decision "on their own."

4. For young children, count the options on your fingers.

This repetitive step illustrates the various options to your child, and helps him/her anticipate having choices.

5. For older children, talk about choices in advance when possible.

This gives your youngster a chance to think about the options and make an informed decision. For example, you might be planning a special family outing for your children. If it really makes no difference to you which place you go - to the park, a beach, a museum - give them the option choose themselves. This increases their sense of inclusion in the process and will likely help them participate more enthusiastically when the day comes.
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