We discussed two principles of good discipline in the last two columns. The first principle is to tell children what we want them to do rather than what we do not want them to do. The second principle is to protect and preserve children's feelings that they are lovable and capable. Today we will talk about offering choices.
Offer children choices only when you are willing to abide by their decisions.
It is important to offer our children choices. Children feel empowered and important when they are allowed to make choices. They also learn to think through what they are saying when we abide by their choice.
Sometimes, probably because we want children to like us and because we want to be polite, we offer them too many, or inappropriate choices. Children take us seriously when we offer them a choice. Often difficulty occurs because adults offered choices they didn't really mean.
In each of the following situations two possible responses are given. The first response offers a choice the adult really did not intend. The second option offers a clear statement of what the adult intends, making it easier for the child to comply.
1. Situation: Two children are engaged in an elaborate game of camping out under the dining room table. Should you say, "Would you like to come to lunch now?" or "You campers will know it is lunch time when the oven buzzer rings in 5 minutes." (set the timer)
2. Situation: It's shopping day and your groceries are in short supply. Should you say, "What would you like for breakfast today?" or "Would you like toast and cheese or cereal for breakfast?"
3. Situation: You look at the clock and realize your child needs to get to bed. Should you say, "Do you want to get into your pajamas now?" or "It's 8:00. Time for bed. Would you like the green or the blue pajamas?"
4. Situation: You want to have your child help you pick up toys. Should you say, "Would you like to help me pick up toys? or "You can pick up the legos or the books."
As a preschool teacher, I found this principle of good discipline to be the one parents and other care givers most often had trouble with. It is hard to tune into what we are saying and change the wording of the directions and choices we give to young children. It is a subtle but important change. See if you can tune into how you word the choices you give your child this week.
For those of you who love birds, please pick up information about "Birds in Our Community" at the Visitors Center or find information about this great summer project and sunflower growing contest for the birds at the website: http://sites.google.com/site/andreaschneeberg/
Twinkletime Rhymes to Print