Freedom of choice – a helping hand with toddler behaviour…

“Would you like a satsuma or a banana?”

“Would you like to put your arms through your (car seat) straps, or shall I?”

“Would you like Mummy to check your teeth, or Daddy?”
These are just three of the MANY questions I have asked our toddler in the last few days. I used to say “Would you like a snack?” and then spend the next twenty minutes explaining why I didn’t want her to eat cake at 9am, or I would turn up late (and sweating) to play dates having spent way too long manhandling Rose into the car, or – my favourite of all – we would play the ‘pin her down on the bath mat and force her to have her teeth brushed while wailing’ game right before bed – which put everyone in a superbly relaxed mood, as I’m sure you can imagine. 
Then I remembered something from a book I had read, about giving toddlers OPTIONS. When you offer a child options, they can exercise control over a situation, selecting a course of action from two or more suitable choices at a time they want to be independent but aren’t yet fully able to make logical decisions for themselves (lasagne for breakfast, tutu and bare legs for a trip to the park anyone??)
This weekend I heard poor Daddy T struggling trying to get Rose dressed. She was saying “NOOO! DON’T WANT TO!” because keeping still for five minutes while you get dressed is valuable playing time being wasted. I called out “Try and give her some options, buddy” and within 30 seconds she was happily selecting which jumper she wanted to wear with her jeans and peace descended over our home once more. 
I’m delighted to say I haven’t had to wrestle a writhing, angry beast into a car seat for a few days now, so I would urge anyone with a tricky toddler to give it a go. What have you got to lose? A. Nothing or B. You’ll really miss the wrestling. It’s your choice… 😀


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