Many people believe that kids should just do as they are told. Afterall, they’re kids and parents, caregivers and teachers know better. But there are two main reasons that choice can help.
First, have you ever wondered what you’re teaching them when you don’t give them a choice?
You’re teaching them that they need to do what they’re told and not how to make decisions. Of course you want young children to follow your expectations, but with so many sources of bad influence out there don’t you want them to grow up learning how to be decisive?
A second reason it is so helpful to use choice when you want kids to listen to you is to think about your time and the results you want. Have you ever had a struggle in getting them to do what you ask? You know the time when you ask them to put on their socks and it took ten times longer than if you did it for them? Or that time when you wanted them to clean up and you ended up having to do most of the work?
But what if I told you that if you used choices in your directions you can get behavior you love?!
Toddlers and Teenagers are alike in so many ways. Developmentally they are learning how to deny others and express their needs. And unfortunately, so many of them do this in a negative way because it’s their negative behavior that gets reinforced.
Think about it.
You’re busy and tell your child to do something.
Toddler says no.
You stop what you’re doing to deal with their lack of compliance.
Toddler gets more attention.
You do most of the work.
And the cycle repeats itself.
But what if you changed this to be a choice that still met your expectations? Take into account this example.
You’re busy and tell your child it’s time to get dressed. You offer ‘Would you like to hop like a bunny, or slither like a snake to your bedroom?’
Toddler chooses and starts moving to the bedroom.
You stop (for a quick minute or two and follow them) and give them the choice ‘Would you like to pick the socks, or would you like me to?’
You provide a race type of choice ‘Would you like me to count to 10 or sing the alphabet while you put on your socks?’
The child is 99% more likely to be compliant in this scenario when it is repeated in play, in other routines and when you pick and choose your battles.
3 Key Ideas to Get Behavior You Love