But I want the bluuuuue cup! The battle for control and choice with kids

Do this, don’t do that, stop licking the cat, brush your teeth, bedtime!

Kids don’t get much choice in most of their day and this often leads to two situations:

1. Tantrums and breakdowns.

2. Requesting a particular cup, fork, toy, game, and then a tantrum.

Often at the worst possible time they’ll make demand. They’re choosing this time because they have been trained that you’re more likely to give in or at least reward the behaviour with lots of lovely attention.

Children seem to have a finite tolerance for being asked to do things until they decide that ‘you know what? It’s my turn’.

The parents push back and say no to that, and chaos ensues.

A solution:

Instead of fighting every step of the way, provide options that get them to the end result you need.

Option One: “Get your clothes on, we’re going to be late” – giving the options of get dressed or (often what they’re craving) get mum’s/dad’s attention by not getting dressed.

Option Two: “I’ve laid out two sets of clothes, pick one and then let’s race to the car. Wait for it, GO!” Now they’re in control of what they’re wearing, to an extent plus they’re engaged in a race, completely distracting from the dressing process.

Here’s another one.

Option One: “After this show/book/game, you need to brush your teeth”. Again, an opportunity for the child to have control, extend the bedtime routine, and get the bonus or a parent’s attention.

Option Two: “it’s 30 minutes before bedtime, you can choose one book or show after you brush your teeth. Better hurry or it’ll be time for bed after your teeth are done.” Now the teeth stop being a focus and just something that gets done. The options are the fun part of the bedtime routine, as well as having an apparent balance in family choices.

As a usual disclaimer, I’m no expert. I’m just a Dad figuring it out as I go. Got tips? Share them! Please.

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