As parents with busy schedules, it's easy for us to build a routine, make decisions and then impose those decisions on our little ones. We want the best for our children and, oftentimes, we believe our choices are what's best.
However, making decisions for our kids does not allow them to feel empowered or prepare them for adulthood. The power of a small choice can go a long way.
The choice can be as simple as allowing them to choose an apple or banana in their lunch or picking their clothes for school—because at the end of the day, it's okay if your child wears animal print leggings with a purple striped dress. The key is to provide our children with choices that empower them while minimizing the impact on our routine.
Here are six important benefits to building choices into your little one's daily routine:
1. Avoid tantrums
Tantrums are often caused by a lack of control. It's a natural human desire to want to feel in control. As adults, we often fail to recognize that children also need to feel in control.
Tantrums do not happen for silly reasons like cutting a sandwich in squares rather than triangles, but because of an underlying feeling of a lack of power. It is important to allow your little one to feel in control whenever possible in order to avoid tantrums. I always tell parents the best way to avoid tantrums and be in control of your child is to make the child feel powerful. You have power when your child feels powerful.
2. Build confidence
Decision-making is an important aspect of building confidence. When your little one makes a decision and it goes well, they are going to feel proud and this is going to help build confidence and continue to build positive decision-making skills through adolescence and adulthood.
3. Cultivate a sense of value
In my opinion, one of the most important (and often overlooked) aspects of parenting is making your child feel valued. Children are often more creative and perceptive than adults. A child's choice has as much value as an adult's, and we want to make sure that our children know that we recognize that and acknowledge the value that they add to the family. Recognizing their small choices is an easy way to empower our children and acknowledge their worth.
4. Teach responsibility
Life is defined by the choices we make, and it's important that we equip our children by teaching decision-making skills starting at a young age. By building small choices into the daily routine, you are teaching your child to be an active part of the decision-making process and allowing them to learn to manage both decisions and their outcomes (whether those outcomes are desired or not).
5. Foster creativity
When we make every decision for our children, we don't allow them the opportunity to use their creativity and develop abstract thinking. Let's face it, as adults we are often rigid and not nearly as creative as our kids. We want to foster their creative thinking rather than shutting it down by being authoritative.
6. Develop problem-solving skills
Not all decisions your child makes will have a positive outcome, and when a decision comes with an undesired response, your child will learn to problem solve through the decision and make a better decision next time. If your little one decides to wear their favorite dress shoes to the muddy park and they get ruined, they will remember that the next time and make a different decision.
Remember mamas, as parents, it's our job to develop our little humans into empathetic, strong and responsible adults. The best way to do that is to give them the space they need to be creative, develop confidence and feel in control of their own body from a young age. Small choices can go a long way—so go for it and allow your little one to start choosing!