Of course, as parent, we worry about the choices our children will make if we give complete control. But on the other hand, if we make all the decision for our children, we rob them of many valuable lessons that lead to developing discipline and responsibility.
"Kyle's become much more responsible in school as well as home."
Sherri Ackerman ~ Dublin, PA
The main job as parents is to grow independent and responsible children by college. By college, you will not be able to jump in a help our children. Once we call our son’s college to ask a question, they polite told us that our son was an adult and that they could not provide private information – he needed to call himself.
Here’s a great parenting technique that will give your child control and develop their discipline and responsibility muscles but limits that choices to answers that are acceptable.
It’s called providing limited options…
Here’s how it works. Instead of demanding a specific course of action, you provide two choices either of which is acceptable for you. For example, for a very young child, instead of demanding, “Put on your shoes” which can create resistance, you rephrase the question to say, “Would you like to put your shoe on yourself or do you want me to help?” or “Do you want to put your right shoe or left shoe on first?”
"Joshua always gives 110% at whatever he is doing. Whether it be karate, or school, Joshua is always trying his hardest... It is wonderful to him succeeding."
Jennifer Defrancisco ~ Perkasie, PA
The most important thing is to provide two choices that you find perfectly acceptable. By providing choices, you transfer some of the control to the child so compliance is easier. Make it a game for the child so they have fun making choices.
I employ this technique frequently in my Martial Arts classes with great success. For example, I highlight a student by bringing them to the front of a class and asking them to lead jumping jacks. Then, I ask if they are going to do 10 or 20. In my experience, most children like to overachieve and go for the higher number but if they pick 10, it doesn’t matter to me.
The children benefit in many ways from providing Limited Options. First, it teaches decision making without giving so many choices that it causes indecision. Second, it teaches your child better discipline and responsibility because now they are in control of the decisions. Third, this parenting technique inspires independence in a child that is so valuable for their future endeavors. Finally, it give parents the secure to know that the choices are all acceptable.