To Chose or Not to Chose

Choices are a great tool when engaging with small beings.  The language we use around choices is important.  When and how we provide choices are also something to consider.  Here are some thoughts about choices:

Use clear and direct language when offering small beings a choice. The clarity with which you present the choice will help small beings know that it is truly Choice A or Choice B. 

If you offer choices to a small being, one of the options you offer needs to be the answer.  For example: if you offer your small being a drink of water or milk, the answer of orange juice is not a choice.

If you know that your small being is going to have a strong opinion and you are willing to let them decide, don't give a choice.  In that case, use an open ended statement.  For example: if your small being never likes the clothing you pick out in the morning, then start asking them "What do you want to wear?".  Not offering choices as an option.

Choices can help with difficult transitions.  For example: if you are at the playground and need to leave.  You can offer your small being three more minute or five more minutes before you leave.  Rather than waiting for them to ask for more time before you leave.  This helps maintain the balance of control and hopefully avoid negotiations.

One more way to use choices with small beings is to let them know what is a choice and what is not a choice.  When undesirable behavior occurs, try saying "This is not a choice!"  Say it with authority and clarity (not yelling or with anger).  When this phrase is used consistently, the small being often independently begins to change their behavior. You can also follow up this sentence with choices that would work in that moment.  For example: When it is time to leave the house, you ask your small being to put on their shoes.  Running to their room and playing with toys is not a choice (although many small beings try this behavior).  You walk over to them, tell them "This is not a choice" and then offer the choice of "You CAN choice to wear your blue sneakers or purple shoes? Which one?" or the choice you offer could be "You CAN go put your shoes on yourself or I can help you?"  Let your small being know what behavior is a good choice in that moment!

Happy Choosing!!