Two hands engaging in behavior therapy on a white background.

If Yes or No Questions Backfire, Give Choices Instead

“Can you start your homework?” (alternatively, “Have you finished your homework/ Homework.”) “No.”

“Do you want to clean your room now?” “Nah.”

“Wanna go to work and attend to all of your responsibilities today?” “Uh… no.” 

Offering choices to our children instead of asking yes/no questions can transform how they respond to you. Choices foster independence, critical thinking, and confidence and give a sense of autonomy and control. It makes them feel like they’re in control, and who doesn’t like to be in control? This blog post explores the benefits of giving choices and provides practical tips for implementing this parenting approach.

To reiterate, choices give children a sense of control. They prompt children to think, evaluate options, enhance their cognitive development, and engage in their problem-solving. By involving children in decision-making, they can learn to take and understand the consequences of their actions. Additionally, choices open up dialogues. They allow the child to communicate their wants and needs outside of black and white “yes” or “no.” They give your child wiggle room 🙂

Practical Tips:

1. Offer limited choices to avoid overwhelming children. “Do you want this or this?” “Do you want to do homework in the living room or the dining room?” “Do you want to help me clean the house or would you like to clean your room?” “Do you want crayons or markers for coloring?” 

2. Allow time for decision-making, respecting their thought process. Being put under the spotlight can be unnerving for people of all ages. However, do make sure to check on your child occasionally. They may be goofing off (I say this from many years of goofing off.)

3. Respect their decisions, even if they are different from your preference. They have a reason (usually.)  Everyone is unique. 

4. Be prepared to compromise when safety or feasibility is a concern.

By embracing a choice-based parenting approach, we empower children as confident decision-makers and give them agency. Choices cultivate independence, critical thinking, and responsibility – skills that will benefit them across their lifetime!

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