This month we are focusing on the skill of giving choices with limits. Parents can create a bank account for cooperation by giving children choices. Humans need control and children are much more likely to cooperate when they feel in control. They will feel in control when they have lots of choices throughout the day. However, it’s very important to follow the rules for giving choices: 

  1. Always be sure to select choices that you like. Never provide one you like and one you don’t, because a child seems to have a sixth sense in selecting the one you don’t like.
  2. Give 99% of your choices when things are going well. That means you need to give lots of choices every day when there are no issues or problems happening.
  3. Never give a choice unless you are willing to allow the child to experience the consequences of that choice.
  4. Never give choices when the child is in danger.
  5. Never give choices unless you are willing to make the choice for the child in the event he/she does not choose.
  6. Don’t be afraid to say, “I usually give choices but not this time.”
  7. Your delivery and your tone of voice is very important. Try to start giving choices (and be genuine) with any of the following
    1. You’re welcome to _____or _____.
    2. Feel free to _______or ______.
    3. Would you rather _______or_________?
    4. What would be best for you ____or ___?

Our staff love giving choices. Here are some examples of the choices they give their campers:

  • Would you like me to wake you up with music or by coming around to you individually?
  • Would you prefer to brush your teeth before or after you put on your pajamas? 
  • Do you want 10 minutes or 15 minutes of flashlight time before bed? 
  • Do you want to wear clothes to Flagpole or go in your pajamas? 
  • Feel free to sit on your bed or sit on the floor during menuchah (rest hour). 
  • Would you rather have canteen at the beginning of rest hour or in the middle?

Our staff knows that they build up a bank account by giving choices to their campers so that when they can’t or don’t want to offer a choice, a camper is much more likely to comply with their directions or requests. They will say, I usually give you choices, but this time I can’t, and I know you’ll help me out by doing what I ask. Or, didn’t you just choose how the entire evening went, from the time we got back to the cabin until now, don’t you think I can choose that it’s time for lights out now? They can avoid arguments and conflicts by giving choices frequently. 

Sometimes the choices seem silly, and we often know which choices children will make, but the opportunity to have control over one’s life is so important that it doesn’t matter how silly the choice sounds. Kids want control over their lives, just like adults do. No one likes being told what to do. So, we find every opportunity we can to give choices. 

To learn more about Love and Logic, please check out loveandlogic.com. They have many free articles and even handouts for parents and educators. We also highly recommend their book, Parenting with Love and Logic.