Life offers so many choices. Take a deep breath, step back, and learn to trust your child’s choices. He is learning what he wants, needs, and values—these things can’t be forced. Model your values, then let your little bird fly.
How Choices Affect Your Child’s Self-Discipline
Teaching your child to make positive, appropriate choices is a big step toward a well-behaved, disciplined young tot. Consciously making choices is a skill that helps a child understand his own needs and gain a sense of control over his own life. “This may seem like a simple activity, but it’s actually a difficult concept to grasp. Making choices teaches self-discipline, prioritizing, and organization,” explains educator, Editha Buluran.
How To Offer Your Child Choices
Give a choice and be willing to follow this through. Never offer choices without parameters or limits. Younger ones need an “either/or,” while older kids can keep up with several options. Saying, “You can choose whatever you want for dessert, it’s your choice,” does not teach choice—it only spells trouble for both you and your child. Once a child makes a choice, stop giving her other options. When a choice has been made, let it be final. As much as you don’t want to watch your child sink in disappointment when he realizes he made a bad choice, you cannot “rescue” him from this experience. Making a choice entails learning to live with the choice you made. After all, disappointment is a good teaching tool. If you constantly step in to “save the day” whenever your child makes a wrong turn, he may never learn how to work his way out of a problem. And without a variety of choices, children are more likely to opt for non-compliance.
Editha Buluran, early childhood educator and owner, Kinder Garten’s Learning Center, Malolos, Bulacan
Infant and Toddler Development, by Kay Albrecht and Linda Miller