When Monkey was newborn, Duane & I did “Loving Your Kids on Purpose” parenting course, and read Danny Silk’s book by the same title. Then I did the “Love and Logic” parenting course as well. We had lots of good information in our heads and couldn’t wait until Monkey was old enough for us to apply what we learned.
A year later, the main thing I remember is: you can’t control another person. There’s no such thing as “other’s control” only “self-control.” So it’s really dumb to tell someone “get your kid under control,” because that’s impossible. However, I have seen kids were “under control” until they grew up and left home. Once free of their controlling parents, those young adults were suddenly “out of control,” because they had never learned self-control.
Kids need the freedom to learn to make choices while in the safety of their parent’s home. The ability to choose between a couple good, safe options, makes them feel like powerful little people who are in control of their own lives, rather than little minions whose play-time is abruptly interrupted when they get scooped off the floor and thrown onto the diaper changing table for a torturous “poo-poo-sheesh” multiple times a day.
When teaching kids to make choices, give them a couple options, and make sure you like both options. It’s not, “do you want to go to bed?” or “do you want veggies or desert?” I wonder what the kid will choose?
We give Monkey lots of choices all day long.
“Brown shoes or white shoes?” “grey jacket or brown jacket?” She has very strong opinions about which shoes and jacket to wear. It doesn’t always match her outfit, but that’s ok. That choice isn’t going to kill anyone. Soon enough she will want to choose her whole outfit and that could be interesting. But for now I don’t need to give her a choice on which pants or shirt to wear, because she’s already yelling “pants! no jamies!” and eagerly helping put on whatever pants and shirt I’ve got out already. I just have to get an outfit out of the closet without here seeing all the options in there.
We Monkey food choices, “orange or banana?” but she starts listing every food she can name! When I open the fridge she sees 15 more food items she wants. I distract her by saying, “go get your bowl and spoon?” I get something out of the fridge, while she runs around the kitchen eagerly gathering food-related items. She hates wearing a bib (and almost doesn’t need one), but if we give a choice between this bib and that bib, she’ll let us put one on her. I don’t even need to ask where she wants to sit, because she’s eagerly climbing into a chair or yelling “porch!”
We don’t chase her down the road saying, “you need to hold my hand,” but rather “hand or Mama carry you?” to which she usually chooses “hand,” but if not, I end up wrestle-carrying a squirming toddler. Then the next time she chooses “hand.”
At diaper changing time, she runs away until I ask, “do you want to walk to the bathroom or Mama carry you?” Then she yells “wa!” and runs to the bathroom and tries climbing up onto the changing table.
Night-night time is full of choices, which distract her from the fact that she is going to bed. “Do you want to read Go-Go or Bike-Bike?” “read on the couch or in your bed-room?” “Dada read or Mama read?”
Everyone is happy, because Monkey gets to chose what she “wants” to do, after we direct her to “want” to do, what we want her to do.