We all crave some control over our lives. Wether we are 2, 22, or 92, it doesn’t matter. Sure the amount of control and the scope of our environment will be different, but the fact remains. We require some form of predictibility and our own identity. When that is stripped away, we find other ways to deal with it. Usually those ways aren’t the healthiest; drugs, addictive or obsessive behavior, food issues, etc. Have you met that kid that everytime he has to sit and eat, it is a struggle? Or, the elderly person that is very protective over their nick nacks that aren’t worth much? I know that being in this world means we have to give up some control. We can’t keep a tight fist on every aspect of this world. We can’t control that person that just veered into our lane and cause a life changing wreck. I am sure you can name one mother off the top of your head who hovers and won’t let their child have their own thought. I grew up with such a mother. I know she did her best, however, it was stifling. It’s like a rubber band. The further you stretch it (try to control someone), the harder they are going to snap (rebel) at some point. I won’t dive into the stories of my late teens and early twenties. We will just say, I snapped HARD. I knew when I became a mother, I wasn’t going to be a domineering mother. When my children were young, their world was full of choice, choices I could live with. Do you want to wear this shirt or this shirt? Do you want carrots or apples? My favorite, “Do you want to go to bed now or in 15 mintues?” As youngsters they always thought they were getting away with something. Now that we are hitting double digit ages and jr. high years, they can make their own choices. I purposely have less and less control. I am raising future adults, who need to learn to trust themselves, right? In our house, we never experienced the “terrible twos (or threes)”, we never had fights at the dinner table. If I caught inklings of obstinates, I knew they were feeling like they had no control of their small world. This just meant I needed to give them more choices, no matter how silly the choice seemed to me. That always seemed to simmer down naughty behavior. Now that they are older, rather than giving them choices, we talk about them and they are heavier. No longer is it a simple what to eat, but how to handle a difficult situation and the consequences of choosing wrong. This tactic of giving choices not only works on children, but on adults too! Do you want to help me in the morning or the afternoon? Would you rather be responsible for dinner on Tuesday night or Wednesday night? We may age, but the fact remains. We all want to retain control of our own lives. We buck the system when we feel someone else is making decisions for us. There are only 2 rules to giving choices:
- Only give two, rarely three, options.
- Always give options you can live with either way.