Skill: Giving Choices You Can Live With
A mom was having getting her little one to eat at McDonald's. The problem was that her daughter would dawdle endlessly over a few last bites when the Mom was on a tight schedule. She'd tried begging, "Hurry up honey, Mommy has a lot to do today." She'd tried threats, "Mommy will leave you sitting here if you don't finish. See, I am walking to the door..." Her daughter figured out that was an empty threat.
This Mom decided to give her 4 year old daughter two choices the next time this happened. She made sure the options were one's she could live with no matter what her daughter decided. The next time the situation came up she looked at her daughter calmly and asked, "Do you want to throw those 3 bites away right now or wrap them up and take then with you for later?" She had decided in advance that if her daughter dawdled over the decision, Mom was prepared to make the decision for her and take the food home.
Mom was also prepared for an unhappy little one. Taking a crying child calmly and lovingly out to the car without anger, threats or physical violence was an acceptible possibility. Mom knew her job was to remain calm and to follow through. (She reasoned that the strangers she was worried about being embarrassed in front of would not be around to help her with a willful teen in 10 years. So, they didn't matter. )
The plan worked but it was a good thing the mom had thought through all the things that could go wrong because they did. The mom followed her plan though and reported that while that trip had ended in tears future trips to McDona'ds were more pleasant.