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This half-term, my son’s class was given the task of learning the spelling of some words relating to their topic for the last 6 weeks of his school year. My son’s spelling is atrocious, and I was not looking forward to getting him to learn them. The List was not long – 12, but when I initially tested him, he did not get even one right. I had my work cut out for me.

He started out by copying out all the words he had to learn on the computer, typing letter by letter. He then got to choose what colour he wanted each word to be, and when he was happy with it all, we printed them. Then we cut out the words to display them around his bedroom, so I could spot check every now and then.

Today he got to choose which three words he wanted to learn and we sat down to learn them. I had a much more cooperative boy who was able to memorise the spellings in half the time he usually had!
It reminded me of a valuable lesson I’ve learned in managing my children – give them choices. To avoid temper tantrums from your toddler at dressing time, choose 2 or 3 outfits you think she’d like, and let her choose what she wants to wear.

Let your four year old choose between reading the elephant book, or the caterpillar book, if you want some quiet for a little. If your child wants a snack, let him choose between an apple and a banana, depending on what he likes.

Teach your children that if they choose to behave in an unacceptable way, they will have to live with unpleasant consequences, perhaps a loss of treats, or for older children, privileges. If they choose to behave in an acceptable manner, the consequences will be more favourable to them.

Children live under strictures about what they can do and what they canÂ’t, when, how where and why, it is understandable that they could feel frustrated and resentful , and slowly but surely the cooperation dwindles. Giving children choices, albeit under controlled conditions gives your children the message that you do care about their wishes and what they feel, taking their needs into consideration. Children should be allowed the freedom to express themselves in matters of dress or hair style as long as the result of their choice is not unsafe or immoral.

Children get the freedom under your guidance to make their own choices, and you can use these opportunities to teach your children the consequences of their actions, such as spending all their money on the latest handbag or playstation game.

Most importantly though is to remember that once you have given your child the choice, you have to accept their choice. If you have given your child the choice between tidying up their bedroom or the playroom and they choose the playroom, you cannot stop him from tidying the playroom if thatÂ’s not your choice!

Learning to make good choices is a vital skill for growing up. Life involves decision-making. Many children struggle to make choices because they have not had enough experience. Parents and teachers told them what to do and when to do it. Certainly there will be times when your child will not be able to choose, when your judgment as a parent will have to suffice, but these times should be balanced with choices the child can make.

Try giving your children choices instead of orders. You wonÂ’t regret it.


Educating your child is a hard task, but certainly the most rewarding of all is seen how they progress.

Very good advice! Wink

We learnt in a "how to deal with difficult people" that this theory works with adults too. As soon as you give people a choice of options, however limited, it makes them forget about the original problem and focus on the decision. (even making them feel important)
What a great article and beautifuly written. I have to admit that dudette is so right regarding the way we bring up children. I had my "first family" of a boy and two girls by the time I was 26 and was very firm, probably to firm. When I married for the second time and Wendy and Robin came along I was in my thirty's (40 when Robin was born), but with Ruth's help they were brought up in the manner that dudette describes. Ruth was wonderful at this and the majority of the time it ended up with the children thinking that they had made the choice of what they could wear or what they could have to eat etc, and it was a pleasure to bring them up that way. We never "held them back" but they also knew where "the line" was drawn. I hope that many of the members with young families take heed of what this article says.