Prevent Tantrums By Letting Kids Make Decisions

IMAGE: Kaboom Pics

IMAGE: Kaboom Pics

“It’s not easy being a preschooler”  my little one sighed.  

I stepped back to see the world through her eyes; as adults we think the days of childhood are easy, breezy, and carefree - and truthfully, they mostly are.  On the other hand though, there is very little that children have control over.  Often it is feeling so restrained that causes them to act out or have a tantrum.  We can empower our young children by giving them a say in some aspects of their day to day lives, making them feel more in control, ultimately decreasing negative behaviour.

There are some decisions that parents have to make for their kids.  Many well intentioned, forward thinking parents try to empower their children by rolling the ball into their court and wait for their kids to tell them what to do next.  “Do you want to go to bed now?” “You don’t like your dinner?  What would you like instead?” “Do you want to go to this school or that one?” can all be filed under “not an appropriate choice.”

This is not empowering, it is stressful and overwhelming.  Some decisions are just too big for kids to make; they rely on their parents to be their parents and choose for them.  Issues of self care of body (eating, toileting, sleeping) and mind (education, extra curricular activities, peer groups) are under adult jurisdiction, not the child’s.  As they get older kids can and should be invited to be a part of the conversation, but the decision is still up to the parent.

However, there are many decisions that children can make throughout the day: “would you like to wear this outfit or that one?”  “Do you feel like pasta or rice tonight?”  “It’s time for bed; which story would you like me to read?”

Making these types of decisions does wonders for a child’s development: it makes her feel like she does have some control over her daily life; it allows her to practice making decisions now instead of during the tenuous teenage years when the consequences are far more serious; most importantly, it tells her that you trust and value her judgement...which makes her feel confident and loved.

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