On Choice…

ImageLast night was movie night at the boys’ school and we told them that they couldn’t attend. The reason we made the decision that they couldn’t attend was because of the busyness and activities already scheduled for the weekend ahead. Busyness and activities that all centred around them.

Fact: My kids have a busier social life than me.

Anyway, we told them…well to be honest The Captain told them because well…I kinda knew they’d be upset…but I didn’t think they’d be THAT upset. I didn’t think they’d react in the way that they did to the news and I felt badly that The Captain had to deal with their disappointment. After giving them the update that they wouldn’t be attending movie night because of the upcoming activities for the weekend, our little guy – who’s honestly the sweetest kid in the world – called The Captain ‘a meanie’!

“You’re so mean!”

I was livid, The Captain was cool (as he usually is…arrrghhh!)…I had to step back and reassess the situation. Noey thought we were (well actually he thought his dad) was mean. I know and realize that it was only because he was upset in the moment, but still didn’t think he should think that way. So, I thought about it for a bit and decided that this was an opportunity where we should have presented them with a choice.

So we gave Noey a choice. His choice was between movie night or play date the following day with his best friend Michael. I KNEW he’d choose the play date, but maybe if he felt he had a choice, he’d feel less like we were laying the law down. YES! He chose to keep the play date with Michael and he was fine with no movie night.

This was another teaching moment for me. Moving forward, we’re going to attempt to cut back on the number of times we say ‘no’ along with reasons for the ‘no’ and instead increase the number of times we give them choices. We will empower the kids to feel enabled to make decisions that in turn, they will have to accept responsibility for.

So after thinking about it some more, here’s where I think giving them the ability to make their own decisions, between options that we provide will help:

  • Sense of control – come on…kids must feel like they’re little robots being controlled by ‘human adults’. By involving them more in decision-making they will begin to experience a sense of control over the areas that we leave open for their control. So when they are faced with the opportunity to make a bigger decision later in life they’re ready and equipped for it.
  • Responsibility – should consequences (good or bad) fall out from the decisions they make, they will learn to accept that it was their choice and therefore they need to take responsibility for it. This too will help them in the long run to accept that their actions/choices are their responsibility and no one can be blamed should things go awry.
  • Builds self-esteem – as they hone their decision-making skills in small areas their confidence will grow and they will begin to be more sure of decisions that they made and feel proud of themselves for said decisions.
  • The Captain and I will no longer be mean – this right here is a win-win for all!

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not going to be a ‘free for all’ at our home. We will present choices to them that are suitable for their ages (both socially and developmentally) but the choice will ultimately be theirs.

So here’s to less ‘nos’ and more choices and the last time (fingers crossed) that The Captain (or I) will ever be called mean!

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