Children are often given choices all day long: What would you like to wear today? Which cereal would you like to eat? How
would you like me to fix your hair? What do you want to do this morning? Where would you like to eat lunch? When do you want to go home? What sounds good for supper? Would you like to help me in the kitchen? Should we sit at the table or the counter? How would you like the table set? Oh, you want the pink plastic dishes, ok. Now, it is the end of the day and the adults are tired. The parents tell their little one to get ready for bed and there is a fight. Why won’t junior get ready for bed?
This child has been programmed to think she “deserves” a choice; and when no choice is given there is rebellion in the ranks.
Let’s take this thinking she “deserves” a choice out a few years. If a foundation of authority has never been laid, then a child becomes self absorbed and can only see life from the perspective of how it affects her.
In the middle school years this child will whine about anything difficult or that isn’t what she thought of first. “My teacher expects too much, I can’t do all that.” “My friends don’t ever want to do what I want to do.”
High School will bring a rejecting of anyone that tries to give
guidance. Parents are viewed as fools. The teen thinks she is wise beyond her years. She is in control and ready to choose her own path.
As an adult she believes it is her choice to work or not. If her
employer can’t deal with her having a life then that is their problem. She is ultimately her own boss. Taken to the extreme she will even believe that an unwanted pregnancy is a choice. Why should a baby mess up her goals, she has a choice.
Parents are to be the guide, the decision makers, not children. There is comfort to a child, knowing her parents are guiding her. As children grow and mature they are to be given more decision making power, but this is still under the parent’s watchful eye.
Our children are all in their teens, yet, we can still tell them when they need to go change an outfit. Because they are use to our guiding them, they respect the input. Often they choose what they want for breakfast or lunch, but if something specific is served they receive it with thankfulness.
These teen years are respectful because we laid a foundation when they were toddlers. Choices for a two year old were minimal, nearly non-existent. When choices were given they were also tested by not being given every day. If a young child fought for a choice then virtually all choices were taken away, for a time.
Children must be taught to honor others, it does not come naturally. One way to foster respect is to deal out the choices sparingly. Allow children to see that choices come with maturity and are a privilege not a right.