From the moment an infant is born s/he can be empowered or learn helplessness on the responses s/he receives from the requests s/he makes to have needs met. There is a natural communication that typically develops from birth and continues on through childhood and into adulthood.
As adults it is important that we know how and have the discipline to make good choices. While children need to learn boundaries and as adults we need to continue to understand and respect them, part of the process is leaning and having the opportunity to make choices as children.
Choosing what to wear, within appropriate parameters, having choice in activities and food are all important. Raising a child that can not make their own choices or does not have the conviction of their choices can be disastrous.
To a considerable extent, decisions determine destiny. Quite often it’s not the big decisions that make the difference but the accumulation of what appears to be small decisions. Guiding children, instilling good values, and giving them practice making choices, helps them develop the requisite skills and discipline to make good decisions.
From the time they were little our children were encouraged to make choices and as much as possible those choices were honored. To be certain, there were times when they wanted to make choices beyond the boundaries, this was especially the case for two of our children. As they have grown, they have for the most part made good choices and even when mistakes were made, corrected those choices for better ones. Like me, they are not perfect, and as noted, I said “for the most part.” Some times they have made choices with which I have disagreed and in some cases as I have looked back, some of these choices may have been the better choice.
One of my grandsons spent most of the day with me today. He is four years old and is often common in a grandparent/grandchild relationship, he mostly had fun choices. Activities, food to eat, games, etc; however, there were some limits to the choices he could make as well. He has to ask and say please and sometimes the answer is “no.” All of this is important not only to help him become a healthy adult; but also in the relationship and mutual respect I hope we continue to develop with and for each other.
One of my grandson’s spends part of every other weekend with us. He hasn’t had as much consistency in his life as some children, has some trust and security issues, and has a hard time sitting still for very long unless he’s watching a movie he REALLY likes. Because of these things, going to church can be a bit of a struggle. Today, July 4, was an exceptionally good day for him. He chose where we sat. When we went to the children’s program he was able to choose between sitting with me in the back or with his friends in the front. At first he wanted to sit in the back then decided to sit with his friends. Things were out of hand, with noise and touching, within a couple of minutes so I moved right behind him which only helped for about one minute when I moved him back with me; but right behind his class. He was great the rest of the time. He eagerly and appropriately participated. There were times when the other children were standing during singing and he chose to remain sitting, even during one of his favorite songs. That was ok. We next went to his class and he was really better behaved than his peers. At one point I moved his chair back by me; but over all he was great. During the whole time when he was being reverent I quietly praised him. Told him how great he was doing and how proud I was of him.
Research is clear that it is important to allow children appropriate and healthy choice in order for them to grow to productive, competent, healthy adults. Honoring those choices, within moral, healthy, and legal, limits helps them to develop competence and self-efficacy in the choices they make throughout their lives.
Google Scholar Below: Children Choices, Choices Children Competence, Children Self Efficacy, Infant Communication Needs.
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