Choice. It’s a powerful thing. Last year I attended a mommy session where a children’s play therapist talked about positively disciplining children through offering them choices that are within the confines of your boundaries as a parent. I whole-heartedly believe this has saved our little family a slack-heap of stressful and frustrating situations.
Toddlers really want to be in control. (Something I absolutely understand!) But there is so little in the circumstances of their day they have any control over. If it were up to Selah Grace, Daddy would never have to leave for work and we’d spend every day building sandcastles at the beach. Now that you mention it, if Nate could have his way, that sounds about right….
Choices give a toddler a sense of autonomy and control of their world. I find myself continually spouting choice statements throughout the day to a little person who is still so new to life. Healthy life choices. Cause and Effect.
“Do you want to pick out an outfit for today or do you want mama to choose?”
“If you choose to scream over sleeping baby, then you choose a time out.”
“It’s okay to be upset, but hitting is not okay. You can choose to stomp your feet or choose to snuggle your pillow instead.”
I think all of this empowering the toddler to be a respectful, helpful, empowered, self-thinker is working. Selah Grace has an absolute LOVELY disposition and is such a joy to parent. But lately I’m getting stuck on my choice statements. She’s not even 2 and a half yet, but it feels like we’re nearing 3, because most of the time she is too smart for her own britches and offers up a third way.
Mama – “It’s time for lunch! Do you choose hotdog or a peanut butter and honey sandwich?”
Selah Grace – “Um…I choose CHIPS!”
Mama – “That’s not one of the choices right now. You can have hotdog or a pb sandwich.”
Selah Grace – “I want peabub bubbar and honeeeeeeey……umm….and CHIPS!”
So here we are. Just when I was getting the hang of choice statements and feeling good about them. Now we’re navigating new territory together. Choice statements and compromises.
In the end she did have a pb sandwich…and some chips. Cassava chips. Because I’m the mama and even though in the end she has choices and compromises, I’m the one maintaining the boundaries.
But what to do when they choose to not choose your choices? What comes after the choices?