Do you keep asking your child to do the same thing? When children are lost in play, they are often reluctant to pause. This is especially true for children who have found solace in the countless hours of “home game” they have experienced over the past year. Whether you’re encouraging your child to put away toys or preparing for the day ahead, you’re likely to encounter some power struggles. If your child cannot or does not want to do a certain task, like tidying up or getting dressed, offering two options is a valuable strategy.

Here is the beginning:

Try to lead with prompts that challenge your child to complete a task on their own.

“Please put on your outdoor clothes and meet me at the door.”

If the request encounters resistance:

Offer two ways that get the job done.

“It’s time to get dressed and go outside. You can wear your sandals or your sneakers. Which pair do you choose? “

Choices help children shift gears and give them a sense of control when they feel rushed or frustrated. More than two options can be confusing or overwhelming for young children, so make sure you only offer two!

If your child rejects both options:

You may need to follow up, “If you have a hard time making a choice, I can choose for you.” As children become familiar with this approach, they find that it is in their best interests to choose one of the two options offered to them.

Your child may also need physical assistance. If your child refuses to put on the selected shoes, describe the physical support you would like to offer before touching their body. Try to explain your next steps without judgment. Sound is everything here. “It takes a long time to get ready today. You can now put your sneakers on or I will help you by putting them on for you. “

Many parents hesitate to make decisions in difficult moments. You may be asking, “Am I letting my kids get away with too much? Shouldn’t they just do what I ask? ”It is developmental for children to assert themselves and test limits as they move in the world around them. Experimenting with boundaries helps children understand what is expected of them and recognize consequences that correspond to certain behaviors. Offering choice is a way of meeting children where they are in their development. It is important to make thoughtful, appropriate decisions and to consistently hold your child accountable.

Here are some common scenarios + suitable options for your kids:

Avoid Cleanup Time: “You may be responsible for cleaning up wooden animals or blocks. Which do you choose? ”

Delaying bedtime: “Would you like to brush your teeth before or after the bath?”

Resist Vegetables: “I could use your help preparing dinner. Shall we roast sweet potatoes or carrots tonight? “

Ask for physical carrying: “You can ride your scooter this afternoon or use your walking feet to get to the playground.”

You can find more language support in our Guide to positive language strategies. Whether you want to tackle challenging moments or improve everyday conversations, you can find practical strategies that will benefit the whole family.

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