Thursday Tips: The Power In Choices

The Power in ChoicesGiving kids choices gives everyone power. You control the situation because you get to choose what the choices are and your child has control because she gets to guide the situation. A true win-win!  

I learned the power of offering choices in my first job out of college. I worked in a special needs classroom where we weren’t allowed to use the word ‘no’. What do you do? I learned to redirect unsafe situations by saying, ‘that’s not a choice,’ instead of ‘no,’ then offer 2 appropriate, safe choices.

This tool of offering choices stuck with me and became one of my most leaned-on tricks through grad school and years after working as a speech therapist. I have gone entire therapy sessions without giving one direction and offering every next step in the form of a choice. Because I really don’t have time to argue (or be a hard-ass) about what we’re going to do next–We have way too much to learn in that short therapy time!

This is not to say choices always work. There are those tantrums that will happen no matter what. The meltdowns where I’ve spent entire sessions in the hall. But when I’m in a situation with a 50/50 chance of defiance/tantrum vs. participation I’ve found choices are my best way to tilt it toward participation.

It may seem that if you offer a choice you’re giving up control of a situation, but it’s exactly the opposite. When you offer choices, rather than telling kids what to do, you’re letting them pick from options that are both ok with you, that don’t really affect the outcome you’re trying to accomplish.

So you don’t offer choices about the big stuff (like not to do an activity at all). But you could give a choice of activity, then a choice of what to do first. Then give a choice of who should turn the water on. Then, ‘Do you want this bowl or this bowl?’ ‘Big spoon or little spoon?’ ‘Do you want to pour or stir?’ and on and on (you can make pretty much every decision into a choice!). Soon your picky eater is completely involved and is in control. If they offer another option that’s ok with you, that’s great! Let them feel ownership of the activity. Now they’re participating!

Choices at meals and snacks are also extremely helpful and can often be a way to get out of making different meals for picky eaters. By offering choices of how your child wants the ingredients in dinner, you may be able to deconstruct the meal so that your picky eater gets a lot of the same foods as the rest of the family, just in a different way. Raw carrots instead of cooked, shredded instead of circles etc…

You can also learn a lot about your child’s eating by offering 2 choices at a time. When your child makes choices you get solid information about what they like, how they like it and sometimes why they like or don’t like it. So useful!

I will say that it’s really important to limit each choice to 2 options. This keeps it manageable. When there are too many choices, the options can feel  overwhelming and it’s harder to pick just one.

If food-times are sensitive times, practice offering choices during other times in the day and see how it works. If you’re stuck, here are some great examples to try from Love And Logic. Once you feel comfortable, try offering some choices around food and see how your child responds.

Enjoy! Happy food play (your way and your child’s way ;)!

Advertisements

23 thoughts on “Thursday Tips: The Power In Choices

  1. What great advice! I never thought of doing this for everything, but I certainly am going to focus on this in my relationships. I definitely see an advantage to looking at the choices over time. What a great way to get to know someone’s likes and dislikes and then truly understand them better.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did this from the beginning and got many times “the look” and the “head shakers” in a restaurant from others… I think they don’t believe in giving kids choices? but mine eats and is happy at dinner time! that’s all what counts 😉 Happy there are more people
    Like your blog! Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is spot on!! Giving choices is SUCH a fabulous way to prevent a lot of issues up-front! It’s one of the easiest interventions to implement with some of the best payoff! Win-win all around 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on pea fritters and commented:
    This woman and fellow blogger is a seasoned speech therapist. She has a great blog about making food fun and suggestions for fussy eaters. This post about choices has some lovely ideas for meal times and life in general with a little person.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great blog post!

    I’m lucky that I learnt about the power of choices through my behaviour management training for teaching so have always adapted this at home with mine. Most often for us it’s things like potty or teeth first at bedtime, or would you like to walk to bed yourself or shall mummy carry you. Occassionally, if I’ve asked Pip to do something that he initially refuses (e.g. Give a toy back to his sister), he gets the choice of doing it himself or mummy will do it! I’ve found that the most powerful one – he LOVES to do everything himself (he’s almost 3), so this has been very powerful.

    I often joke that Pip thinks it’s a democracy, but it’s actually a dictatorship in disguise! 😂

    Like

  6. Reblogged this on Madified Mum and commented:
    I’m lucky that I learnt about the power of choices through my behaviour management training for teaching so have always adapted this at home with mine. Most often for us it’s things like potty or teeth first at bedtime, or would you like to walk to bed yourself or shall mummy carry you. Occassionally, if I’ve asked Pip to do something that he initially refuses (e.g. Give a toy back to his sister), he gets the choice of doing it himself or mummy will do it! I’ve found that the most powerful one – he LOVES to do everything himself (he’s almost 3), so this has been very powerful.

    Most recently, when he’s refused to tidy up before bed, we’ve been having the following conversation:
    Me: “Right Pip, it’s time for us to tidy up before bed time”
    Pip: *whiney voice* “I don’t waaant to tidy uuuup”
    Me: “Ok, well we can either go straight up to bed, or we can tidy up first?”
    Pip: “I want to tidy up!”

    He literally switches that quickly, and tidies like a pro!

    I often joke that Pip thinks it’s a democracy, but it’s actually a dictatorship in disguise! 😂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I agree. Except my kid then flips the script on me. When I offer her 2 choices, she offers me 2 choices of her own. She is very strong-willed (like me) and we often butt heads. Offering choices works 80% of the time, 10% there’s a tantrum, 10% she wins (sometimes, as a single parent, I’m just too tired to argue).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I will implement this practical advice of offering choices to my daughter today. Thank you, this is a great post. I also appreciate you visiting my blog and liking my post on fear and children.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s