Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tools for Your Parenting Toolbox - Sharing Control Through Choices

If you or your child (or both) have a high need for control then learning to give choices and share control could be one of the most amazing tools you ever use.  (It works great in extended family relationships and in customer service situations too!) 

Sharing Control Through Choices
  1. Make sure the choices you give won't cause a problem for you or for someone else. (Not: Do you want to work it out or punch it out?)
  2. Be careful one of the choices is not a punishment - so that it feels like there is no choice. (Do you want to clean your room now or get grounds for the rest of the week?)
  3. Be prepared to offer two options, either of which would be just fine with you.
  4. If the child doesn't decide in ten seconds, decide for him or her. - so they can't manipulate you through delay.  (Lead with empathy.  This is so sad. Children who can't make up their minds get to have their parents decide.)
Sample statements
  • Would you like green beans or peas for a vegetable tonight?
  • Do you think it would be better for you if we brought the kids over in the morning or after naps. (To mother-in-law)
  • Do you want to do your homework right away or after supper?
  • Would it be better to study your spelling tonight or try to do it on Thursday when your friend is here.
  • Are you going to bed now or would you like to wait until this show is over?
  • Can you stay with us and stop that, or do you need to leave for a while and come back when you are sweet?
  • Do you want to put your shirt on first or your pants?
  • Do you want to wear your batman undies or your superman undies? (Potty training)
  • Will you be home at 4:30? Or do you need an extra half hour?
  • Do you want to call Grandma on the phone or Skype with her?
  • Do you want to wash dishes or dry them?
A great resource is Avoiding Power Struggles with Kids.  You can also check out Jim Fay's article Guidelines for Sharing Control Through Choices

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