Giving Up Choices

by Jasmine Carlson on March 14, 2011

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I am not in the habit of reading parenting books. It isn’t that they aren’t helpful. I have heard of plenty of circumstances where reading parenting books revolutionized the way a friend of family member chose to parent their children. I have also seen people read a new book every few months and then change their parenting technique to match. This seemed to create very confused and angry children. They didn’t know what to expect from their parents. Being predictable is such a comfort for our children.

Yes, there is a but in this because it has to do with a parenting book I picked up the other day. I have been on a waiting list at the local library for quite some time. I was not introduced to new concepts. I had been parented in much the same way and found that there are quite a few things that I also implement in my parenting.

So what did I discover that I know will revolutionize my parenting? Let my son make more choices. Offer choices. Offer valid choices. There are many small choices during the day that I found I was making that he very well could be making. As I turn those choices over I am watching him blossom. I can watch the little cogs turning in his mind. Many times already he has surprised me with his choices. There is also less resistance in our home. Things that could become an argument of point of contention between us because I was making all the little insignificant choices I am learning to hand over to him and suddenly he feels empowered. He feels he has choices in his life and we all know how much better we feel about life in general when we have some control.

And the final (major) benefit? Because he has to think so much more he sleeps much better at night!

Photo used from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29890539@N07/4648496819/

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Jasmine Carlson (50 Posts)

Jasmine is a community living mama with a passion for fierce writing and fitness. She her way on Team USA by fitness coaching. Shaping Her. (www.shapingher.com) Join the conversation at (www.facebook.com/ShapingHer)


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon Heritch March 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

The title of the piece confuses me. In what way is the author ‘giving up’ choices? Perhaps it is meant to be ironic?

I am curious to know some examples of the types of choices she has come to offer, and the age of her child. Many attached parents offer too many choices to their children, overwhelming their kids with psuedo-choices such as “Which color toothbrush (out of 12) do you want to use today?” which can make a child frustrated and angry. Mainstream parenting sources are stuffed with the ‘offer choices’ mantra, but the choices they suggest you offer are psuedo-choices like the toothbrush color. It took me a while to figure out that the ‘give choices’ advice was perhaps directed at parents who were much more directive than I was to begin with.

It is so hard to figure out who the audience of any particular parenting advice is — is it the over-controling, the permissive, the neglectful, the push-academics-before-three, or someone else altogether?

The article is thought-provoking. It makes me want to ask more questions of Ms. Carlson. :-)

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Jasmine Carlson March 17, 2011 at 6:06 pm

My point in the title was that I am reminding myself that I need to not dictate everything for my son.

Some examples of offering choices:
Would you like to wear a hat today or go without?
Would you like to have milk or water with your meal?
Would you like to eat your vitamins now or in a few minutes?
Would you like to read a book tonight or not?
Which book would you like to read tonight, this or this? (offering two choices)

Two choices are always offered so that it is a choice but it is fairly limited. They are real choices but not anything that will cause him harm. The choices are limited so that he does not become confused or overwhelmed with too many choices.

You are right. It is difficult to aim one post at everyone that is why it strictly comes from personal experience for me.

I enjoy questions!

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Mom in MD May 2, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I just happened to be doing a Google search on children and choices, because this has been a topic of debate lately with no only my friends, but a constant struggle with my husband. I have come to realize that I wholeheartedly agree with giving our 4-year old son choices (5 this July!). I am totally okay with my son deciding what shirt he wants to wear (considering it’s weather/cleanliness appropriate), whereas my husband will fight with my son in making him wear whatever my husband has already picked out. Opposition has claimed that by giving kids the ability to make decisions you are setting yourself up to raise a monster that will think everything is negotiable. I do not believe that. I think choice, with appropriate options and limitations, gives a child the ability to be their own person, and not necessarily a little robot with no thoughts, feelings, or opinions. Yes, ultimately, what we as the parents say GOES, but you better believe I am going to continue to give my child options and choices for things that are appropriate for him, and I will in no way stiffle who he is for the sake of trying to turn him into a little Mini Me!!

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