Why You Need To Offer Controlled Choices

As parents it is easy to get wrapped in routines and make all the decisions for the family while imposing them on our little ones but what if you gave them some of that power?

This is where controlled choices come in.

For almost a year I have struggled with my middle child. She’s the kind of kid who will not take no for an answer, she also struggles to take turns and well, after months of trying to get her to share and listen while implementing various reward charts for her behaviours, I gave up - nothing worked. 

That was until her Speech Therapist introduced the idea of offering her controlled choice and well, it’s been life-changing, to say the least.

Giving children choices or allowing them to make their own decisions throughout the day will not only help them feel empowered and in control over what they say and do, but it is also a completely healthy and natural step in growing.

What are the benefits of offering controlled choices?

Offering controlled choices allows your child to make their own choices while allowing them to partake in the decision-making process of any task or game, therefore, increasing engagement, teaching responsibility and cultivating a sense of value.

Why You Need To Offer Controlled Choices

Providing children as young as two with opportunities to use their voices, offering controlled choices also helps to:

  • Build respect and confidence.
  • Develops problem-solving skills.
  • Invites cooperation.
  • Decreases problem behaviour.
  • Gives children a sense of worth and accomplishment.

How do you offer controlled choices?

The key to offering controlled choices is to offer a limited menu of reasonable choices, all of which you can agree to because let's face it, too many choices can be overwhelming. Give them the choice between only two things. 

Examples of controlled choices:

  • Ask your child if they would like to wear their runners or boots today.
  • Offer your little one the option between an apple or a banana for lunch.
  • Ask your little one if they would like mommy or daddy to read them a bedtime story.
  • Ask them to think of a code word for you to say when it's time to head home from the park.
  • Ask them if they want regular rectangle sandwiches or square sandwiches for lunch.

It is extremely important to be consistent when it comes to offering controlled choices. If your child doesn't pick between the two, don't offer another option. They will eventually get it because offering a choice prevents negotiation and will help avoid a power struggle. 

Kellie Kearney

Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of five kids aged newborn right up to nine. She loves coffee, cloth nappies, travel and sharing her every day true to life family moments on Instagram.

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