With my two-year-old on my hip begging for ‘summat to eat’, I walk over to the fridge and open it.
I give her an abundance of options to satisfy her grumbling tummy – an apple, grapes, blueberries, a cheese stick.
We stand there for an age until she requests in a whiny voice, ‘summat in the cupboard’.
As my patience starts to wear thin, I move to the pantry where we stand there forever while I rattle off a myriad of choices for her – shapes, clock biscuits, Jatz, water crackers, cheese crackers, sultanas, Tiny Teddies. The list goes on.
And on we stand, deliberating. I continue to rehash the options as I hurry her along with, ‘Come on, I haven’t got all day’.
This dance around the pantry is a daily case of de ja vu. I become frustrated that Smiley can’t make a choice and she gets upset when I eventually make the choice for her.
‘That’s it! You’re having sultanas,’ I will announce as I snatch the sultanas off the shelf and put her down in a rush.
I offered her a choice and then took it away from her. No wonder she’s having a meltdown.
We then go to our plastics drawer, which I’ve purposely put at ground level so the kids can choose their own plate, bowl or cup.
I pull out the Peter Rabbit bowl and she has a dummy spit. She wants the blue Peter Rabbit bowl, not the beige one.
When Dave is home to witness these goings on, he can’t help but get frustrated with the situation. He doesn’t like seeing me at my wit’s end or the kids being demanding.
‘You can’t negotiate with terrorists,’ he will say jokingly.
‘Don’t ask them what they want. Just give them their food and their bowl and they have to eat what they’re given.’
As a child I ate what I was given, for the most part, and did what I was told. I don’t remember being given a mountain of options to choose from.
Is it because I don’t remember or because there just wasn’t that much choice?
These days there is so much choice. As an adult I can find it overwhelming at times. It’s no wonder children do too.
The way I see it, giving children choices helps them to learn. Even as an adult I am absolutely hopeless at making decisions. I want my children to be better at it than me.
I’m giving them some independence, empowering them, and giving them a little control. They are little individuals and I’m helping them to express what they want. I’m encouraging them to have opinions, to speak up, to be passionate about what they like and don’t like. I’m encouraging them to think for themselves and make good choices.
Perhaps, though, I have been going to the extreme with this notion. Perhaps I need to rethink the choices I give the kids and limit their options. I don’t need to offer them a choice for everything.
I think I’ve been guilty of giving them too much choice and causing them a little confusion and overwhelm.
I’m going to rethink what I give them choices on and cut back on the number of options.
The number of choices I present to my almost five-year-old will obviously be different to those I offer my two-year-old.
It’s all a learning game this parenting gig, isn’t it?! One day us parents will figure it out.
What’s your opinion on kids and choice? Do you allow your kids to choose what they eat, what they wear etc? How do things work in your house?
Linking up today with the effervescent Jess for IBOT.