This is one I use quite often – offering choices to your child when it comes to doing something you know they don’t really like. With young children, you usually only offer two choices because they will have difficulty choosing if they are presented with too many options. Obviously you should only offer options that you can live with regardless of which choice your child selects.
Offering choices is a commonly recommended discipline tactic. It has worked pretty well for us until Gavin decided to throw in a third option. Pantley suggests that when that happens, you should just smile sweetly and tell your child that that isn’t one of the choices. Repeat the options and ask your child to choose again. On occasion, however, I have accepted Gavin’s third option but only if it a choice I can live with.
Another problem – which we have also faced with Gavin – is when your child refuses to choose. Pantley suggests that in such instances you should make the choice for your child. So if your child refuses to pick an option, you tell him you will choose for him if he doesn’t do so. I usually give Gavin a time limit – for instance, “If you don’t decide by the time I count to five, I’m going to choose for you.” Once you have made the choice, you “help” your child comply. For instance, if he is supposed to take a bath, you take him hand and lead him to the bathroom.
Although this method isn’t always scream-free, I like it because it prepares Gavin for what’s coming. I’ve given him a choice, I’m allowing him to get things done the nice way, and I’m being fair. Melt downs will also occur if he’s already tired and cranky – in which case we’re prepared and we expect it.
Have you use this method to manage your children? Please share your personal experiences relating to this particular disciplinary measure – what was the situation, how well did it work, etc.