I think that is the longest post title I have ever published. Yay for breaking records.
So, we try to let Bug make his own decisions and choices whenever possible. We give him options for lunch, we give him options for what to wear, we give him options for what to play with, etc. I’m a believer in the idea that if you let your kid make a lot of their own choices, they won’t be quite so defiant when they HAVE to do something. If a child is constantly told what to do, at some point they will either become rebellious or they will spend their entire lives not being able to make decisions for themselves. Or both of those things, which would be quadruply awful. I mean, really, can you imagine a rebel who can’t make decisions? Shameful. Anywho, point is, a child who is free to make some decisions on their own from a young age will theoretically be more responsible and more aware of the consequences to their decisions. It is kind of like not saying NO to every little request he has or every little thing he does. You have to say YES sometimes in order to balance out those NOs. I mean, it’d be pretty mentally debilitating to a person to be constantly told NO.
Bug likes that we give him options. However. We were having 2 specific issues lately with this whole Bug gets to choose thing.
Issue #1: BOTH
Me: Eli, would you like yogurt or applesauce with breakfast?
Ok, so that’s no big deal. He can certainly have both. And, trust me, he will eat both of those plus a bowl of cereal and some fruit for breakfast. Kid’s like his Momma when it comes to shoveling in the food in the a.m.
Me: Eli, would you like to ride home from dinner in Mommy’s car or in Daddy’s car?
Me: Sorry, buddy, you can’t pick both. You have to choose just one.
Bug: Ummm. Ummm. Daddy’s car. (Pronounced “Daddy cawr,” obvi.)
I am pretty certain that he chooses both simply because he A) can, B) hopes we will actually give him both and C) doesn’t want to think hard enough to make an actual decision. Yay lazy toddler. In the end, the “both” issue is pretty much a non-issue. When it comes down to it, he has yet to become upset when I tell him that he can’t have both and he has to choose one. He thinks about it and he chooses. And, when it is feasible, I give him both. The applesauce and the yogurt is a good example. Kind of goes along with that whole idea I mentioned about in the beginning about saying not always saying NO. If I give him both when it is possible, then when it’s not possible, he’ll be more laid back about it than if I was always making it choose. I don’t know… makes sense in my head.
Issue #2: The Changing of the Mind
Setting: The bakery at the grocery store, where Bug gets a free cookie just for being a child (SO not fair).
Me: Eli, would you like a sprinkle cookie or a chocolate chip cookie?
Me: Sorry, buddy, you can’t have both… you have to choose one.
Bug: Chocolate chip cookie! (I’d put here how he pronounces it, but I can’t spell it. He does pronounce cookie “boogie,” which is awesome.)
The nice bakery guy hands Bug a chocolate chip cookie. Bug FREAKS THE F OUT and starts yelling “PINKLE BOOGIE” in between the sobs and tears. The super nice bakery guy, who reassures me that he has kids and grandkids and it’s really no big deal, hands Bug a sprinkle cookie instead. I make Bug give back the chocolate chip cookie, which is such a waste seeing as it now has to be thrown away. Bug is immediately happy again.
This situation was beginning to happen more and more frequently. We give the two year old a choice. The two year old makes a decision. The two year old immediately regrets said decision and acts like the end of the world is happening, like, RIGHT NOW. After about a week or so of coddling this super awesome behavior, Hubby and I decided to teach him the hard way that when you make a decision, you stick with said decision. So, when we asked Bug if he wanted to play with the car or the tractor and he answered car, he got the car. Freak out ensued, but no tractor was given. This would be one of those times where mom just walks away and lets the toddler calm down.
True to Bug form, it seems that it hasn’t taken him long to figure out that we mean business. I think it took maybe 4 times of me not giving in when he changed his mind for him to stop and think about his decision before making it. Of course, tomorrow will probably be riddled with mind-changing-induced freak outs because I said that.
This one little thing… this decision making thing… is one of those things that I never thought I would have to come up with a parenting game plan for. You prepare for dealing with weaning from pacifiers and breastfeeding and bottles. You prepare for dealing with biting and hitting and discipline. You prepare for picky eating and potty training and how to break a fever. You don’t think to prepare for the little things like this that your child throws at you. It’s those little things that make parenting challenging and fun and respectable… those little things that keep you on your feet and always thinking.