How to Offer Children Choices Within Limits
- Make the choices respectful to both parent and child. If we say "Either quit throwing the ball in the house or I'll take it away," we are making a threat, not offering a respectful, fair choice. An effective, mutually respectful choice would be, "You can either play with the ball outside or with another toy inside. You decide." Here, parents address their safety concerns and respect the child's need or desire to play.
- If we say "Do you want milk or juice" and children say, "I want both," we can say, "Which one first?"
- If children persist, we can say, "You can decide or I'll decide for you and you might not like what I decide."
- If children don't like the choice they made, acknowledge their disappointment and remind them that they can choose another option next time.
- If a child tends to change his/her mind, confirm the choice and your expectation that he/she sticks with it. For example, say "Okay, you chose cereal, right? Once I pour the milk on the cereal, I expect you to eat it."