Importance of child participation in decision-making
If you want your children to make wise choices about life–indeed, if you don’t want to make choices for them for the rest of their lives, your children must learn to choose and make choices.
We want our children to know they have choices. We want them to know how to make wise choices.
This doesn’t mean you need to let your child rule the home from age two up. It doesn’t mean you can let your two-year-old choose between playing in the street or in the backyard. Give them safe choices they can handle.
For example, say to your two to three-year-old child, “Do you want to wear your blue pants or your green pants today?”
Do not say, “What do you want to wear today?” Do not say, “Do you want to get dressed now?” Do not say, “What color pants do you want to wear today?”
Say, “Do you want juice or water with your meal?”
Do not say, “What do you want to drink with your meal?” Your child will probably want a soft drink.
Many parents make the mistake of letting children do whatever they want when they are smaller, thinking they can limit these actions as the child matures and can understand (the parents’) reasoning better.
It doesn’t work quite that way. They need to make limited choices when they are younger and then be given more choices as they age.
What if they make poor choices?
There is no “what if” about it. They will make poor choices.
Just call them an “LL” for “lesson learned.”
Let them experience the consequences of their choices while you keep your mouth shut completely or open long enough for only a very few words to emerge.
Don’t go on and on about their poor choice. You want them to benefit from the LL and move on to the next choice, hopefully a better one.
If you never allow your children to make choices alone, they will become indecisive adults and/or perfectionists and fearful of doing anything wrong.
In fact, the choices you allow your children to make when young will definitely affect the choices your child is able to make as a teenager and adult.
One could really say, Mom and Dad, the original choice is yours!