Friday, June 24, 2011

52 Tool Cards: Limited Choices

This week's tool card is another one that gets a lot of use in our family.  Giving my words meaning with C means that I have to be willing to make it happen.  Limited choices is one way of making it happen that still gives her some control and gives her a chance to cooperate freely. 

Say it is time to leave the park, and she doesn't want to go.  Not leaving isn't a choice.  So I say, "We had fun at the park.  It is hard to leave.  Do you want to walk to the car or fly?" Or I might say, "Do you want to help me carry the ball or mommy's purse to the car?"

Say it is time to brush teeth, and she isn't interested.  I say, "It's time to brush your teeth.  Do you want to use your Dora toothbrush or your Winnie the Pooh toothbrush?"  Or I might say, "Do you want your turn first or should I take my turn first?"

Of course, she may not take the bait.  She may still say she does not want to leave or does not want to brush her teeth. 

In that case I say, "Staying is not a choice," or "Not brushing teeth is not one of your choices," and then I repeat what the choices are.

Jane Nelsen recommends adding "You decide," and giving the child a little space to make up their mind. 

Sometimes C offers her own choice.  At the park she may say, "I want to catch you," which means that I pretend to be running away from her toward the car complete with mock expressions of horror about how fast she is and how I hope I can get away.   Halfway there she might run ahead and say, "Now catch me!" 

I love that we are on the same team and she is free and empowered to come up with creative solutions to living within our family's boundaries.


  1. I'm getting better and better at finding 2 or 3 choices to offer that are all win-win for me. the biggest one I use now is "do you want me to carry you, or do you want to go by yourself?" (to a destination he doesn't want to go to evidently - changing diapers, getting in the van...)It works just about every time. Either way, I' getting the desired end result and he's getting to make a decision. I also use choices for him to pick what he wants to eat for lunch. Do you want a hot dog or a peanut butter sandwich? Choices are the key to toddler survival. :)

  2. Yes, I use some variation of "This is what has to happen. Do you need help or do you want to do it yourself?" umpteen times a day!

  3. Hi Pio, If we need your help what suggestion are you going to give.

    Veronica Pitman

  4. What specific situation do you need help with?

  5. This is really cool! It's just the sort of thing I am trying to do with *my* daughter. I was raised on the Pearls, but I threw them out when my daughter was little, thankfully!


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