Welcome to the first installment of a new weekly series here on my blog. Tipsy Tuesday (no, not that kind of tipsy...but hey, sometimes we all need a drink, so feel free to grab yourself one while you read!) is going to be a tip or technique I use when working with children that could help you out with your little ones.
Today's tip is to allow your child to make choices. The more often, the better. Especially older infants (9 or 10 months and up, depending on the child) and young toddlers. These ages in particular are all about wanting to and proving they can do things on their own. This promotes self confidence, independence, and even problem-solving skills.
However, be sure to set boundaries to these choices. Don't give your toddler free reign to their closet or dresser and allow them to choose their outfit for the day unless you're prepared to walk around with a child in pink striped pants, navy blue shirt with white polka dots, one green sock, one purple sock, a light blue scarf, a yellow hat, and perhaps some mittens for good measure. You can't give them a choice and then once they choose tell them they can't have what they chose. That's just not fair. Also, this and not allowing them to do things they are capable of (within reason of course), and not allowing them to make choices at all will eventually lead to self doubt, low self esteem, etc. Instead, pick out two or three outfits for them and allow them to choose between them.
Other easy choices to allow your child to make - Do you want strawberries or a banana with your breakfast? Do you want to go to the park with the big slide or the park with the swings after nap? Do you want water or milk in your sippy cup? Allow them to choose the books they read before nap and bedtime. For the children who aren't capable of speech yet, you could put the options in front of them (like the fruit example), or for ones (like the park example) you aren't able to show them in person you could make small flashcards or pictures and allow them to point or take the one that corresponds with the choice they want to make.
Giving them the opportunity to make choices and show their independence when they can usually helps the children be much more agreeable during the times when you can't give them options.