Parents today have a lot on their plates. So it is natural that they would want to create a routine for their children and ensure that they stick to the routines. In this quest for setting up a routine for children, we often end up making all the choices for them not realizing that we should let them make their own choices once in a while.
Giving children a choice helps them feel empowered. It makes children feel that they have some control and a say in what they do. The crucial part here is that parents should first decide which choices they will allow the children to make.
An effective way to teach children about choices is to give them options between two or three things and let the child chose the same. However, keep in mind that you give choices that you permit.
Parents should begin with simple choices like which book would they like to read, which snack they would like to eat or which errand would they like to help with. You can also let the child decide what he/she would like to wear. If you want your child to do a particular task, like brushing teeth or taking a shower or combing hair, give him/her the choice of whether he/she would like to do it immediately or ten minutes later. This makes the child feel like he has power yet gets the job done.
While giving choices, please ensure that you are consistent. If you give them the choice of what to eat for dinner one day and the very next day enforce that they have to eat what is cooked, children will get confused. This will lead to refusal to comply, whining or throwing tantrums.
Tantrums can be avoided by giving children choices. Children, like adults, like to be in control. When children feel they do not have any power, they are more likely to throw tantrums. When you give a child the choice between two things, he/she feels powerful that he/she can choose between doing what he/she feels like. Another benefit of giving choices to children is that it leads to an increase in the confidence of the child. When the child makes a choice and this particular choice made by the child work out well in his/her favour, he/she feels proud of making the choice which eventually leads to the building of confidence.
Allowing your child to make choices also fosters creativity in him/her. When we make decisions for our children, we do not give them the chance to use their creativity and force the decision upon them. This hampers the creativity of the child. Giving choices to children also teaches them how to be responsible. When a child makes a choice, he/she takes the responsibility for the same thereby teaching the child how to take responsibility for his/her own actions. By offering choices, you teach your child important decision-making skills while taking accountability for the choice as well as the outcome.