In our last 2 posts, we discussed the article in Atlantic Monthly:
In this article, the author decries the use of giving kids choices. I asked my fellow Positive Discipline Instructors to weigh in on this important topic of giving kid’s choices.
Laura Dunn is a speech pathologist. She is in favor of giving choices because it is essential for teaching kids language. Read on to hear what she has to say:
“I don’t know if this point is already obvious to others, but as a speech-language pathologist working with toddlers and their parents, I wanted to add:
Offering choices between two items is also a key skill for parents to use to help little kids learn to talk. It’s an especially important strategy to use with kids experiencing expressive language delays. When we give kids options, they hear the word modeled and it is easier for them to respond. It allows them to send a specific message about what they want, at the whatever level they are capable of (using reaching, pointing, vocalizing, signing, and/or saying the word). This gives them achance to experience the power of communication. It’s an important way for parents to provide opportunities for kids who are learning to talk to imitate and practice using words in a natural, meaningful way.
Parents of little kids with language delays often resort to lots quizzing (“Jacob, what is this?”, “What color is this?”) and/or trying to compel language (“Jacob, say dog”) in their anxiety to get them to “use their words”. These efforts are usually counterproductive, because the use of words in such cases is not meaningful to the child. At this level, learning to give choices instead is a simple but powerful first lesson in my book.”
Julie Knight who we heard from before also weighs in:
“This has been a very interesting discussion. I especially appreciated the speech pathologists weighing in. I would have never thought of choices as powerful part of language development. Very cool!
I also wanted to add the importance of positive choices since I have had to watch that myself. For example, I have come to believe these are not good choices: “Would you like to play gently with the toy or have me take it away?” versus these good choices “Would you like to play gently with the toy or read a book?” From what I understand from Dr. Nelson’s tapes, I want to keep the choices from being thinly veiled punishments.”
So there it is. All these answers helped me clarify my position on using choices as a a parenting tool. I will definitely continue using choices in the future. However, I will be careful not to give too many choices. I also think it is important not to give choices as a means of appeasing kids or because you are fearful that if you don’t they will start to tantrum.
I think we as parents need to balance, promoting independence in our kids (one way to do that is to give choices) and maintaining our authority in our homes. Kids ultimately don’t want to be in charge, they want their parents to be in control. We need to remember that when we give our kids choices.
Let us know what you think:
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