Tired of repeatedly asking your child to do the same thing over and over and over again? When a child is unable or unwilling to complete a specific task, such as getting dressed, offering two choices is a valuable strategy.
Mornings are especially tricky for many families. When children are immersed in play, they are often reluctant to get dressed and prepare for the day ahead. Try leading with prompts that challenge your child to complete a task independently. “Please put on your outdoor clothes and meet me at the door.” If your request is met with resistance, offer two choices that get the job done. Choices help children shift gears and give them a sense of control when they’re feeling rushed or frustrated. “It’s time to get dressed. You can wear your grey sweatshirt or your green coat. Which one do you choose?” What happens if your child refuses to choose his outdoor gear? The choice becomes, “You can put you coat on by yourself or I can help by putting it on for you.”
Many parents fear that offering choices is a slippery slope. You may wonder, “Am I letting him get away with too much? Shouldn’t he simply do as I ask?” It’s developmentally appropriate for children to assert themselves and test limits as they investigate the world around them. Experimenting with boundaries helps children understand what’s expected of them and identify consequences that correspond with specific behaviors. Offering choices is one way to meet children where they are developmentally. It’s important to provide thoughtful, appropriate choices and consistently hold your child accountable.
Here are a few common scenarios where choices will serve your family well:
🦔 Avoiding cleanup time: “You can be in charge of cleaning up wooden animals or blocks.”
🥕 Resisting vegetables: “I could use your help preparing dinner. Should we steam broccoli or carrots tonight?”
🛴 Requesting to be carried: “You can ride your scooter or use your walking feet to get to the playground this afternoon.”
🛁 Stalling the bedtime routine: “Would you like to brush your teeth before or after your bath?”