Avoid arguments with your child and encourage compliance by scaling the number of choices down by the age and stage of your child. For children under 10, 2 options will be sufficient. Lay out tomorrow’s clothes and ask, “Would you rather wear the brown pants or the green ones?” As your child ages, so do the decisions. “Would you rather have the Spiderman backpack or the Dora one?”
Set a pattern for narrowing things down to 2 choices and choosing between them. This helps to avoid arguments such as “I want them all” when he or she knows you will only allow a choice of 2, and then only 1 of those 2 items. You can counter with, “These are all great ideas for your friend’s birthday gift. Narrow it down to 2 and I can help you choose between them.” And then help him or her decide with a statement such as “Those are both great gifts for your friend’s birthday! Which one do you think he would like better?”
As your child becomes a preteen and a teenager and wants to do more things for him or herself, continue limiting choices in the pattern you have already set by saying things like, “You may attend the party. Would you rather have us pick you up or will you get a ride home?” And continue that narrowing process as you help him or her pick a college by asking if he or she would rather be in-state or out-of-state, in a cold climate or a warm climate, at a party school or a serious one, at a school where friends will be attending or on his or her own, in the dorms or in an apartment? This process is a lifelong skill to narrow options until a satisfactory choice is made.
Author and psychologist Wendy Mogel writes, “Creativity blossoms when it faces limits. A sonnet is fourteen lines, a haiku just three. When water is allowed to sprinkle it loses pressure, but when it is channeled through a hose the flow is more powerful.”
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Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.