Providing Choices to Support Autonomy

By: Dr. Beth
Date: January 21, 2022

Have you ever felt like your boss, co-worker, or teammate was micromanaging you? Did it make you feel good, or did you feel like you wanted to find the fastest way out? Our kids can feel the same way when we are constantly firing demands at them all day: “Clean your room!”, “Brush your teeth!”, “Eat your vegetables!” Providing your child with choices is a great way to give them some control and autonomy, within the parameters and boundaries that we set.

One of the main complaints I hear from families all the time is “I feel like a short order cook! My oldest child is a vegetarian, my middle child only eats meat, and the baby is surviving on Cheetos and applesauce!” While it can take some time to help your children understand that eating at home is not like eating at a restaurant (they don’t get to order whatever they want)- one way to get there is to provide them with choices.

The choices can begin before they even sit down at the table- they can choose which color cup, plate, bowl or utensil they use. They can decide how many scoops of fruit they want to have. They can choose how many pieces of broccoli they put on their plate. They can choose which kind of dressing to put on their salad. By giving them options, you are setting the stage for success, and can hopefully avoid some of the power struggles that are all too common during family mealtimes.

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