Sometimes, I can be stern and direct as a parent. “Put your shoes away.” That’s when I’ve reached my limit. But that’s certainly not how I like to be, ideally.
Most of the time, I try to use patient requests or natural consequences. If I’m at my parenting best, I’ll use playfulness and creativity maybe even come from understanding and see her innocence and age. What a concept! Like any caring parent, I want her days to be fun and for her to feel good and empowered.
So, when it comes to getting her to make choices, I try to give her many instances of being in control. This evening, for example, we were heading out for dinner
Me – “Do you want to do Brain Quest pages at dinner or when we get home?”
Her – “When we get home.”
Me – “Okay.”
At dinner, another opportunity to give her the control came up. We were at Sweet Tomatoes, and I was hungry and anxious to eat
Me – “Do you want to sit on this side or that side?”
She lingered. I felt the urge to push her to make a decision or to just tell her where we would sit. Instead, I counted to ten, something I rarely do. Just before ten, while we stood there in the middle of the food area with our trays, and my Italian side was about ready to make an executive decision, she decided. I relaxed, smiled and followed.
Don’t know what the perfect parenting formula is, but I think if I’m striking a balance between directing and letting her choose, it’s got to be pretty healthy for her. I wouldn’t be comfortable with being on one extreme or the other.