Happy Saturday! I want to talk about choices. Choices I give my children to give them a sense of empowerment that they are making a decision on their own. Choices that make them feel like they are in charge of their own destiny. And choices that really just direct them to the decision that I want them to make.
Ever since my boys started Kindergarten in the fall, they have been hesitant to give me or receive my kisses goodbye when I drop them off at school, at night when I put them to bed, and frankly at any point in the day. BUT…I think hesitant might be a slight understatement. They literally turn their heads, bend down to escape my oncoming kisses and squirm this way and that to get out of my grasp. I am not quite ready for this stage. Honestly, a small part of me gets my feelings hurt, but then after I get some distance from the situation and some clarity, I realize that it is all part of the growing up process.
It dawned on me that if I really want to get what I want, kisses from my boys, I should be using one of my old parenting tricks; giving them a choice. So, I gave it a shot. And you know what? It worked!
Me: You have a choice. You can give me 1 kiss or I can pin you down and give you 15 kisses.
They jumped, yes jumped at the option to give me just 1 kiss, NO MORE! They definitely didn’t want to be pinned down for 15 of my kisses. Now all I have to say is 15 or 1, 15 or 1 and I get my kisses!
I am sure I sound like a broken record, but let’s be honest, what mom or parent doesn’t sound like a broken record?
Me: You have a choice. You can go upstairs, pick out your own clothes, put them on and go golfing or you can not get your own clothes and not go golfing.
Me: You can lie down and have your diaper changed and we can go to music class or you can not have your diaper changed and we can stay home.
Me: You can get in the car now and we can go to the zoo, or you can not get in the car now and we can stay home.
Me: You can stop crying and eat this dinner that I know you like or you can not stop crying and not eat anything for dinner.
Me: You have a choice. You can sit here and argue with each other about who scored the goal (or if it was a foul or not or if he was safe at first or not and so on) and waste precious playing time, or you can stop arguing and get back to the game.
Over the years, this is how I have handled challenging situations between me and the kids when I really want them to do something but they are putting up a fight. 9 times out of 10 they end up choosing the option I really want them to choose because the other option is actually a terrible choice. It is incredibly leading and the choices I am offering them are totally skewed in my favor, I know, but they aren’t hip to my trick yet. They still think that they are the ones to be making the decision. This empowers them. This makes them feel more independent.
I am not sure how much longer this little parenting trick is going to work, but for now, I will take it! In life, they will always have a choice and as they get older the choices will get harder and harder. So at the end of the day, I do hope that this is giving them the foundation and experience they need to make decisions, to make choices, and to make smart decisions and smart choices.
What sorts of choices do you give your children? I would love to hear any parenting tricks you might have.