Menu

Avoid a tantrum by empowering your child—6 strategies to try

How to build choice into your child's routine, without sacrificing on your time.

Avoid a tantrum by empowering your child—6 strategies to try

One of the best ways to empower children is by providing them with the ability to feel in control. That sense of control leads to fewer tantrums, more confidence, a sense of responsibility, problem-solving skills and it cultivates a sense of value. But it can be difficult to provide your child with choices all of the time, and parents often don't know where to start, especially when schedules are crazy.

Here are six go-to strategies to build choice into your child's daily routine, without sacrificing on your time:

1. Make the choices small.

Too many choices can be overwhelming for a little one so keeping choices small is key. Asking, "Would you like an apple or banana?" or "Do you want to put your shirt or pants on first?" can provide choices without taking too much time.

Two is typically the optimal number of choices for most kids. When we start to give kids more than two choices, we lose structure and kids become overwhelmed. Minimal choices provide children with a sense of control without bombarding their decision-making skills.

2. Build choices into your daily routine.

Schedule in choices throughout your routine to create a consistent sense of control for everyone. For example, the evenings can be the time to let your little one decide what vegetable they will eat for dinner, or every Sunday you can allow your child to choose between two restaurants for dinner. It is important that, even if routine changes, you acknowledge the change and, ideally, let your child choose whether to be a part of the change.

3. Offer "this or that" choices.

This or that choices are easy to build into almost any time of the day or situation. If your child is having trouble getting in the car, allow them the choice to sit behind the driver or passenger seat. If they can't decide on what shoes to wear and you need to get out the door, offer a blue sneaker or a red sneaker. Simple choices are an easy way to empower a child and avoid a potential tantrum.

4. Stick to their choice.

Sometimes your child is going to want to change their mind, but it is important to stick to their original choice. Being consistent with choices teaches responsibility, builds problem-solving skills and reinforces your child's value in the family. When you begin allowing kids to change the choices they make, it can break the structure and lose the benefits of offering them that power.

5. Give positive reinforcement.

Acknowledge that you recognize what a good choice your child made and how much you appreciate her helping to solve a problem. This will help to build your child's confidence and make her feel confident to make more difficult decisions in the future.

6. Provide only options you agree with.

This might be one of the most important things to remember. If you are not okay with an option, do not present it to your child. Following through on your child's decision is the key to success.

For example, when making your daily schedule, you can allow your child to choose between nearby playgrounds, but don't mention an option you want to avoid, such as a playground that is too far out.

There are many ways to empower your little one and giving a few small choices throughout the day is just one simple way to help raise strong, confident and capable little humans and avoid tantrums.

You might also like:

After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

BABYBJÖRN bouncer bliss

baby bjorn bouncer

The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less
Life

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less
News