Vanilla or Chocolate?

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Teaching your child to make good choices is essential to raising a well-behaved, empowered, and healthy child. Helping your children learn the difficult skill of making positive, the appropriate choice is a big part of parenting. This skill will stay with your child through adulthood; it’s a part of being self-disciplined and taking responsibility for making life’s choices.

We are faced with choices every day in our life, some are big essential choices, and others are less important, but a child who is skilled at consciously making choices will understand her own needs and gain a sense of control over her own life.
Here are some tips about teaching choice to your child:

• When a child is making choices about her behavior, you can point out the choice and the consequences of it. We have all seen in the movies the little angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other; this is a great way to teach younger children to think about their choices and the consequences of their choice.

• You are a role model.

Children learn to make meaningful choices by watching you do them and gaining experience through making little choices.

• Never give a choice you aren’t willing to follow through on. That means if you say, “Either you clean your room or we are not going out to dinner tonight,” you should be prepared to start cooking.

• Food Choices: It’s your responsibility to keep your child safe and healthy. Keep food choices healthy, and allow your child to choose what to eat. For example, if your kid decides to eat only cookies and ice cream, stop having them as a choice.

• Choices teach how to prioritize.

Older children can use choices to learn how to prioritize. State what chores, homework, or activities need to be accomplished by a specific tie and allow your child to choose how to prioritize to get them done.

• Once a choice has been made, be precise when it becomes final. This can be a challenge to some parents; remember, you have an option too!

• Which brings us to the question, What if your child doesn’t like her choice? That can be hard for a frail parent to watch. It can even be hard for a robust and reasonable parent to watch. Nobody enjoys watching a child be disappointed. But making a choice entails learning to live with the intention that’s been made. Don’t “rescue” your child from her experiences; it may make her feel better in the long run, but it ultimately won’t teach her anything. Disappointment is a good teaching tool, and discipline is training.

• Choice Expands with Age:

As an adult, you have free choice about many aspects of life. You’ve earned that. Children start unable to handle anything but the most straightforward decisions. As kids get older, the options become more complex, and they should.

• Choice Builds Strength in Character.

I understand it is tough to cut that umbilical cord of life with our children; as parents, we feel like we must always be there to protect our children from life’s pains. A child’s best defense is the ability to make safe, wise choices, and this is a skill that takes practice. Please help your child by guiding her through the selection-making process. That’s all you can do, and that’s often more than enough.


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Hello Franklin, the newest children's book from Kim Nicholson, is on a mission to help children understand the importance of insects and the natural world.