Just like us, children don’t like feeling powerless.
Their reality, however, is that they do not have much power. They don’t get to decide much about their daily schedule, where they live, even who their friends are. This can be very frustrating and can cause more strong-willed children to act out against authority.
That authority, of course, is you, which means you might be having some pretty frustrating and exhausting days.
One thing we did with our children was give them as many choices as we could. Often times these choices were simply,
“Which one of the things do you want to do first?”
Let’s look at bedtime. When I said, “Get your pajamas on and brush your teeth” my kids saw this as an order and it was met with a fight. They weren’t asked if they wanted to go to bed and they didn’t get to decide that on their own. I couldn’t have them decide that at that age.
What I could have them decide however was, “Would you like to brush your teeth first or get your pajamas on?” Now they felt empowered. They would think about it, weighing the “pros and cons” of each option, and then decide. It was great. They did what I needed them to do, and I didn’t have to fight to make it happen.
But even more importantly, I showed them respect and helped them to feel strong and in control.