Parenting Tip: When possible, allow children to make choices.

the words yes and noHave you ever wondered how you can encourage your children to cooperate with you and become more responsible?

If so, then today’s tip will be helpful to you: When possible, allow your children to make choices in matters that affect them.

But many parents are skeptical about the wisdom of this. After all, they ask:

Won’t it undermine my authority?

Shouldn’t my children do what I tell them to do?

Why should children have input into what happens in the household?

Actually, by offering choices in areas that you are comfortable letting go of control, you will increase your authority in areas in which you want to have the final say. By not getting caught up in the small details of life, your children will know that when you do set a limit, you mean business.

And children are more likely to go along with a rule, a chore, a plan when they have had a part in deciding it. They become more invested in its success and are more likely to act responsibly. As they see that they can influence the things that happen to them, they feel better about themselves and their ability to cope with the world.

There are some cautions, however:

  • Only offer choices that you are comfortable with, so that whatever your child chooses is alright with you. For example, don’t give an option of a sleep-over if that does not work into your schedule. Or, don’t make it seem that your children can choose to wear whatever they want if there are some things in their closet that you think are inappropriate for the occasion.
  • With young children who might become overwhelmed with too many options, you can offer 2 simple choices: “Which would you rather have with your cereal – blueberries or strawberries?”

Giving choices allows children to practice the important skill of decision-making which helps them become more independent. They are more likely to cooperate when they have been listened to and their input has been respected.

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