Choices are good, right? Until they’re bad.
Too many choices becomes overwhelming. We can see the results of seemingly endless choices and information when we, or someone we know, gets lost in hours/days/weeks-long process of sorting through online reviews and information in the attempt to make a decision that might have been made over a dinner conversation twenty years ago. Grownups have problems with this, and yet so many parents inflict too many choices on their children.
It’s important for children to learn to make choices and endure the consequences in small, safe, age-appropriate doses. It’s also important for children to feel like the grownups are running the show. Offering opportunities to make choices – within defined parameters – and then sticking with those choices, are great learning experiences for children.
Consider asking a five-year-old:
“Would you like applesauce or yogurt for a snack?” versus, “What would you like for snack?”
What are the odds the child isn’t going to go for fruit or low-fat dairy and will instead choose something the parent wasn’t planning to provide? With so many modern parents afraid of upsetting their children and overly eager to have their children’s approval, children are left without anyone big and safe to place limits around their world. Temper tantrums, anxiety, and entitlement are often the results.
Children benefit from parameters and calm grownups being in charge. A calm, in-charge grownup can offer safe, appropriate opportunities to learn decision-making skills and learn to live with the consequences.
Dr. Lori Puterbaugh
Posts are for information and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed to be therapeutic advice. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact a licensed professional in your area.