So once we know that we don’t control others and that anger short circuits learning how the heck do we get our family out the door in the morning? How
do we leave the park when the fun is over, or get our children to do their
homework, or go to bed at night? I mean, I am a fan of bribery when I’m
desperate, but surely there is a better way.
That is where choices come in. One way to raise confident independent children is
by offering them lots and lots of choices. When we try to bully our children into doing things they might learn obedience, but it can also lead to a feeling of powerlessness and frustration. However, when we share the control, even (and
especially) in small and insignificant things, their wheels start spinning and
you give them a priceless gift. It’s the gift of thinking. The way you share this control and empower them is through choices. 
The Love and Logic rules about choices is that they can’t be
dangerous or create problems for others, and Dr. Fay says if the child does not
choose in 10 seconds you choose for them. 
Here is how it works. All day long, for any situation that you feel
works for you, you ask your child if they want “this or that”. It only works
when you are okay with either option. Every time you offer them two of the
right choices you are teaching them to have some control
of their actions. They are learning to make good choices in an environment that is safe and when the price tag is low!
Sometimes they don’t get a choice. It’s perfectly fine to
explain that you have given them lots of opportunities to choose, but now it is
your turn to decide. There are also going to be plenty of times where any child
with a mouth will choose a third option (which was not given). In this case you
stick to your guns and decide on the appropriate consequence. As Danny Silk
says in Loving Our Kids On Purpose
“This is the real world, and it really works
like this. We are all making choices in every situation, and those choices are
bringing certain consequences into our lives. When we show our children what the
real world is like, we equip them to be aware of the fact that they are making
choices all the time and we enable them to take responsilbiltiy for them.” 
 The example he gives is let’s say the dad
offers a choice for the child to clean up his room or pay dad to clean it for him. The son chooses neither and 
leaves. The dad happily cleans the room and BONUS- it gets done the way
he wants it. Then later he tells the son he owes him $50. Of course the son
either has no means to pay or refuses to pay. So that dad calmly enforms him
that he can easily get $50 for the Xbox and then he follows through with selling it. It is STRONGLY recommend that you never ever suggest a consequence or choice that you are not
willing to enforce. For example, he says you better not just hide that Xbox for 6 months and bring it back out. That defeats the whole lesson and the lesson
is more valuable than an Xbox!
I personally have been doing this method of choices for three years now
and it has been transformative! In the morning let’s say my daughter is not
really feeling like getting ready I will just whip out the choices to get her to wake up and put her thinking cap on. Do you want boots or sneakers? Pick one. Do you want a waffle or cereal? Do you want one pony tail or two? This method  is so
much smoother than just barking orders and getting into fights. We still hit
walls,  esepecially if lets say she wants
to wear a swimsuit to school or eat a candy bar for breakfast, but it alleviates some of the battles, I can promise you that. The more you practice it the
more natural it will come and you’ll find yourself  giving choices with ease when it’s the heat
of the moment.
When I read Love and Logic in 2012 I wrote this example
out that I was using at the time. I guess I was anticipating a blog post. Looks like it only took 2 years for me to get around to it! Anyway It’s neat to look back over it because our bed
time routine is completely different now, but it’s actually so much better than
it was back then. So that’s encouraging for me to see how far we’ve come!
At bedtime
Instead of starting the process by announcing “The movie is done it’s time for bed” followed by
protests and melt downs. It might go something like this
Do you
want to wear your Mario Pajamas, or snowmen? 
well who is going to turn the tv off tonight? Me or you?
Now what
are we going to do brush teeth or go potty? 
Do you
want to brush your teeth or do you want me to do it for you? 
I am
sorry I don’t understand. 
I can’t
understand the whiney voice I can when it’s a big boy voice
I will
listen to you when your voice sounds like mine. 
Z: I don’t
want to brush my teeth mom. 
You can
brush your teeth or I can brush them for you, but if I brush them I get to pick
the book we read tonight.
Then he
brushes his teeth and picks a book
Then we
say a prayer 
Then he
usually wants to keep the book with him and I let him, but if it distracts him
from sleeping I take it away and he knows that. One night I took the book and
he had a huge breakdown throwing himself on the floor and the whole shebang. So I said, OH
DEAR I guess we aren’t going to be able to pick that book again
. I then
followed through with this consequence when he wanted that book later. 
That was when my son was 5 and now he is 7. Like I said, I
haven’t even looked at these notes since then and I am just amazed. That’s my personal little testimony I guess.
For the record when your children are very young there
isn’t a whole of logical thought process developed in their little minds, so
sometimes you do have to take the bull by the cute little horns, and I mean
that in a loving way. If you’re a mother I am sure you have had to force your
baby into a car seat, or take away dangerous objects without giving them a
choice, or my favorite break up a fight by dragging the offending toddler off of
the victim. I’ll be sharing a separate blog post on my opinions on parenting children
under 5, but it’s not too early to start implementing some of these teachable
parenting tactics. Whenever you feel like they are ready for some simple
options then go for it. I think you will be amazed at what you see! I know I
This is day 14 of a 31 day series. For the rest of Teachable Parenting click HERE.