So you read the last blog and it did not work out quite that easy? Did your child waffle, refuse to choose, take forever choosing, or keep changing his/her mind? Or were you in a classroom situation where the child had figured it out and is consistently choosing the lesser choice to get out of something they very much need? Here are some next steps for children who execute “choice stoppers.”
CHOICE STOPPER #1; Asking a gazillion questions to help them choose. Don’t let a small child behave smarter than you. Once this technique is fairly obvious to you, state the choices. If the child continues to question, you continue to use your very sweet, genuine voice and say “You need to choose by 3, or if it is to difficult to choose, I can help you choose. Count sweetly to 3, then; “Here, I will help you.” Now you make the choice, but do so gently. (Be ready for some tantruming the first time.)
CHOICE STOPPER #2; Is you child taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r to choose? Use the same technique as above, restate the choices, then “You can choose by 3 or if it is to difficult…” Then follow through. Remember the key to keeping out of a power struggle is to watch the words you use and the voice with which you use them. It is completely up to them until 3.
CHOICE STOPPER #3;Is your child changing his/her mind about the choice? Do not allow this. The child might have to do this once or twice before it is clear what is happening (The first time this happens refer to the previous technique.) When you see this is what his/her technique is “Remember, you need to pick one.” Follow through with the first choice the child picks, then genuinely reply, as the child starts to rebuttle, “I’m sorry, but you can only get 1 choice. You can try that one next time.” If you begin to see frustration on the child’s part then you are doing this right. Do not worry , this frustration will turn to happiness and confidence the more you do this. Compare it to this, the frustration the child feels , is life consequences, small ones. If a person is born into lots of money but never is taught how to manage it, then ends up penniless, the frustration and fear from that is life consequences. In giving you child boundaries to their choice making and their world, you build steps. These steps of frustration get smaller over time until the child learns what is beneficial him/herself. Thereby avoiding the huge, life changing circumstances that they did have control over the disastrous outcome.
CHOICE STOPPER #4; AHA, you have the detective child that figures out the code. Lets go back to “Julie” in the previous blog. The teacher wanted her to put the item on the board. Maybe this situation, putting the object on the board (maybe for hand coordination?) It is important for Julie to do with the kids. (in the previous blog Julie did not have to put it on the board when all the other kids did, but she had to put it on the board before she got to do the next activity.)In this case, the two choices are “You can do it, or I can help you if you need it.” Again, said sweetly and serenely. You may be thinking, but that does not really seem like a choice. The more chaotic the situation, the fewer choices they need to choose from.Too many choices gives an already chaotic situation room to spread. The child still wants to be in control, so you can let them. Let the child to be the one to choose well or not, and if they can not, you may need to help them. This gives the child what he/she wants – to be the one to decide. Narrow the choices, allow the child to choose no than you may need to use (gentle) hand over hand assistance to help them. Even when there is rebuttal, help the child get the item to the board. Help the child see him/herself as a good choice maker with a follow up “good job,” or thumbs up. Do not give tantrumming attention, but give it “you are hurting my ears and we can not hear. You can go over here (away from the group) until you are done.” Hurting is never allowed as a choice. The choice is to be nice (define) or be by yourself.” Give no mention of time outs – just logical consequences to maintaining order for the group.
Tools for the adult:
* Remember all children feel safe when there is an adult in charge, not a child or themselves.
* Help the child by avoiding ” punishment ” but always follow through with consequences of the lesser choice.
* Help the child always maintain their dignity by using a gentle, sincere voice and language. Avoid guilt or shame statements.
* Help the child see themselves as a good decision maker by rewarding even the most weighted choices or accidental good doings.