Giving advice to help sort through the choices

by beagooddad on January 10, 2007

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I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
Harry S Truman (1884 – 1972)

Isn’t that a great quotation for parents. With toddlers we spend so much time trying to keep our kids out of trouble and preventing them from ruining our nice things.

At some point, we should reach a point where we can back away from the constantly saying, “No” “Don’t touch that” “Get down from there.”

Our kids turn 4 later this month and have pretty strong opinions about what they want to be doing. We find ourselves still needing to say a lot of “Take that out of your mouth” “Don’t stand on the box.”

4 year olds don’t need much advice on which college to choose or whether to wear boxers or briefs, but they do need a lot of advice on the frequent question, “What should I do now?”

One of the best ways to help small kids make their own choices is to help them sort through the huge amount of options that exist by only presenting them with a small set of options.

When kids get bored with playing, you need to guide them into a different activity. Instead of asking them “What do you want to do next?” which leaves open infinite opportunities, try “Do you want to play a board game or read a book?” Once they have made that choice, you can grab a few books or games for them to choose from if they have trouble picking one on their own.

Kids also need to learn to make boring choices, too. Small kids can easily be overwhelmed trying to pick one shirt out of the thirty they own. If this happens, pick out three and let them choose from that group.

Sometimes they won’t like the three you picked out, but will suggest something else. But, then they made their own choice which is good.

When kids are allowed to make their own choices, it is amazing the independence that arises. Just last night, I grabbed a video that both kids like. I needed to make an important phone call and wanted them to stay relatively quiet and in one room. Pookie rushed over and grabbed the video from my hand. He held it up to his face, put it back on the shelf, searched the contents of the shelf, and handed me the video he wanted to watch. It happened to be the Thomas Movie. I never even knew he had started liking the Thomas videos until last night and they both happily watched the entire show.

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