Apples or Bananas?
April 2nd, 2011
As much as possible, Josh and I try to parent with Love & Logic. One of the L&L; secrets to success is to offer your child choices — but not too many. Offering a simple “A or B” choice empowers your child to take ownership of a decision, but keeps that decision within parameters that are acceptable to you.
Using this tactic at our house can often help defuse potential temper tantrums. For example, when it’s time for dinner, Miss Mouse is often less-than-thrilled to leave her toys and go wash her hands. But when asked — “Do you want mommy or daddy to take you to wash your hands?” — she usually perks right up, and thoughtfully makes her selection. The “fight” is gone. It’s not “do you want to wash your hands?” The hand washing is assumed and expected, and Miss Mouse is so focused on picking a parent that she forgets she didn’t want to wash her hands in the first place. Usually.
Except it doesn’t always work quite like that. Lately, Miss Mouse has taken to picking Option C a lot of the time. “Honey, do you want apples or bananas for lunch?” Answer: “Oranges.” Or, “Honey, do you want to wear your blue hat or your black hat?” Answer: “My pink hat! MY PINK HAT!!!!!!”
Or, she rejects the premise of the question and simply growls a surly “No!” “Honey, do you want to wash your hair first or brush your teeth first?” Answer: “No.”
I wasn’t sure how to handle these situations. Was I undermining myself by letting her pick Option C? Was that simply encouraging her to find a “work around” to the options I suggested? And when she refuses to make a decision and I choose for her, a screaming fit ensues, making me feel like I’m back to square one, since a big advantage to offering choices is avoiding such screaming fits.
Lucky for me, when I have questions about the proper application of Love & Logic principles, I can consult my guru. My L&L; mentor is my cousin, Erin, endlessly grace-filled mother to three of the most well-behaved boys I’ve ever seen. I posed my questions to her, and — as always — received great responses, which I will share in my next post.