How to Offer Children Choices Within Limits

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Choices are the best tool for preventing and stopping power struggles and rebellion. There are a few ways that parents can run into problems, however, so here are a few guidelines for using choices effectively.

- Don't give a choice if there is no choice. "Do you want to take your medicine?" sounds like the child has a choice. Instead, say "You need to take this medicine" Do you want chewable or liquid?" Or "Do you want to take it before or after eating?" Or "What drink to you want to 'chase' it down?" You don't need to offer all of these choices. I'm giving several example so you can see that even in a situation where a child "has to" do something there is often some way the child can have some choice or control, which prevents power struggles.

Rule-of-thumb: If there is no choice IF something needs to happen, offer choices for HOW or WHEN it happens.

- State your bottom line (the minimum standards that must occur, what is non-negotiable). Then offer choices within those limits. Your limits will usually relate to safety, health, rules, rights, things like that. Those are issues you can and need to control.