Mom, can I watch 4 or 5 movies? He’s empowering me. Why, thank you.
Ummm. You can watch 4.
Nooooo, how about 10.
Huhn? Where did that come from? That wasn’t one of the choices.
Uhhh. No. You said 4 or 5. I chose 4.
Ok welllll. Can I just watch 5?
Basics of the Principle – When a child is doing something that you don’t want them to do or asks to do something that is unacceptable, you offer two choices that are both acceptable. The child must choose one or the parent makes the decision.
It seems that The Boy hasn’t yet grasped that when given the choice between two items you must pick one of the two items. According to positive discipline guidelines, having choices helps him develop a sense of belonging, which is crucial for healthy growth and understanding of self. But, if he hasn’t mastered the either A or B and C is not an option principle, then he is not ready for the choosing responsibility.
I am really putting some effort into this Choices Principle. Sometimes, it actually seems as though The Boy is using it on me. Mom, can I have 1 vitamin or two? It’s that damn Montessori education that has taught him to understand the concept of closed end questions. A yes or no response would just not work and I am forced to choose one of the two options offered me. (Dang it.)
So, I understand the Choices Principle when The Boy uses it with me. But, he doesn’t get it. He never wants to be locked into anything other than what he wants and if given the choice, he will always take forever to choose (trying my patience) and then choose exactly the thing that was the reason for redirection to two acceptable choices. We end up back at square one.
The Choices Principle may work (sometimes), but right now, he won’t have a choice and he has about two seconds to choose to do it my way or else. (Or what, Mommy? Or what?)