Many parents can rightly feel bewildered by the many competing demands of life, especially as the number of kids in the family increases. Life seems like a constant juggle of work demands, sports commitments, friends’ parties and the various other taxiing duties of mum or dad. When it comes to making choices about what our kids will be allowed to do, it is clearly never as simple as allowing a full diary to be the basis for saying no. We all make decisions based on what is important and right for our kids.
But we end up stifling children and pushing their buttons when we adopt a ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ approach. It is important to teach responsible decision-making by allowing them the freedom to make their own choices, provided that the range on offer is properly restricted.
For instance, I have purchased a few healthier DVD TV series so as to broaden the narrow range of TV shows with appropriate values. I have also limited the available budget on clothes so that they can buy more expensive items, but fewer of them, if needs be. A restaurant trip is a privilege, but still needs a price range on what can be ordered.
For kids who are ‘bristling’ a little, I would offer two forms of consequence, or two alternative actions. They get distracted from fighting for freedom on the issue in question as they exercise the freedom within the boundaries they are given. This can more-or-less work at all ages, but the choice boundaries may need widening with age.
It is vital that choice be about much more than control, and that love shines through. Care will always be seen in the use of choices by a parent where strong relationships are built with consistency.