HOW TO ENCOURAGE YOUR KID TO MAKE CHOICES ?
In this article I continue to dissect the levers that make our children develop their self-confidence. There are many little seeds to sow for this self-confidence to grow and one of them is the development of your child’s autonomy.
Autonomy is the ability to act freely, it is independence. As parents, we are sometimes anxious for them to become independent but at the same time we don’t want them to grow up too fast.
So how do we find the right balance?
Autonomy through choices.One of our educational missions as parents is to make sure that our children will be autonomous one day, but before the big day arrives when they will fly on their own, we accompany them towards autonomy with a great number of steps: eating alone, dressing alone, tidying their room alone but also choosing something alone!
Let your children make choicesWhen it comes to education, it is often difficult to find the right parental position. We are quickly labeled too strict because we don’t let anything be done or lax because we let too much be done. So when it comes to the autonomy and decision-making of our children, it is difficult to find the right balance. And this is even more true if we are in a parent-child relationship where the parent has all the power. If I give my child a choice, won’t I lose the power I have over him or her? If you are in this situation, you need to get out of it quickly because it will only result in a conflictual relationship between you and your child. Obviously, he doesn’t have to choose everything, but is it really a big deal if your child doesn’t want to put on his rain boots when it’s raining outside? Let him choose between boots and sneakers. If he gets his feet wet, he will definitely choose the boots next time. My point is that as adults, we tend to set the stakes too high and we sometimes lack flexibility with our children because we are in a dominant-dominated position. They need to understand what they can choose and which is therefore negotiable and what they cannot choose and which is not negotiable because it is too dangerous or not adapted to their age. At each age there are tasks that can be accomplished and therefore choices that can be made.
How to support your child in his choices ?You need to get your child involved in making choices every day. You can, for example, offer to choose his clothes when you go shopping, but also invite him to choose the books he wants to read, the Sunday night meal or his extracurricular activities.
In addition, you need to be careful in the way you formulate requests to your children. Many everyday commands can be turned into affirmative phrases that give your child the impression that he or she is choosing and thus soothe the family’s daily routine:
- Have breakfast!
Would you rather have cereal or toast today?
- Hurry up and get dressed!
Would you rather get dressed before or after breakfast?
- Take your shower!
Do you want to shower before or after you clean your room?
- Tidy your room!
Do you want to clean your room before or after your shower? (do you see the con here?)
All these elements, if you put them in place over the long term, will allow your children to feel recognized. They will think that if they are given the choice, it means that they are capable of doing it and that we have confidence in them, so they will develop their self-confidence.
And as Maria Montessori says, “Education must promote both the development of individuality and that of society. Society cannot develop if the autonomy of individuals does not progress.”
Founder of Soft Kids and mom of 3 super-kids!