In the back-to-school rush of the morning, the last thing parents (and kids, too) need is to end the morning angry with each other. Helping our kids understand household rules and what choices they DO have will have an impact on how smoothly the household operates.
Children and Choices
All kids need choices to learn how to be independent. It is about giving them easy, age-appropriate choices to CHOOSE from. For ex:
Would you like oatmeal or fruit/yogurt for breakfast? Which shirt would you like to lay out for school, the green or the blue one? Would you like to brush your teeth or read a bedtime story first?
It also works for older kids: Would you like to transport just ONE of your friends or drive by yourself? (can you hear it now…”MOM!”…but it won’t last long when they know you mean business and safety is not NEGOTIABLE.) Would you like to help with the lawn or or wash the cars?
Practice allowing choices that are age appropriate and not backing down when objections are raised (unless you are willing to negotiate every choice for unlimited amounts of time), your kids WILL get it and life will eventually become a whole lot easier. For children who are used to employing the “wear you down” technique with negotiation after negotiation, it may take a little longer, but HOLD ON. Repeat the choices calmly and let the children know that those are the only TWO choices available at that moment. As much as possible, allow your children to help in making options PRIOR to the morning: lay out clothes the night before, discuss options for breakfast before going to bed so it doesn’t come as a surprise, and discuss safety/homework/recreation/chores with older children. Hold a family meeting to discuss options for consequences if negotiations/begging continue. Once the whole family is on the same page, it is less likely that the kids can try to play one parent or caregiver against another. Allow the kids to brainstorm potential consequences and write them all down to aid in discussions.
There are times when parents wish to make exceptions. When exceptions are made, make it very clear that it is an EXCEPTION and not an everyday happening. Even so, your child will most likely try for “exceptions” the next few days. Get back into normal routine as quickly as possible after allowing for exceptions to regular household rules or options.
Wishing YOU and YOUR child successful beginnings!