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Did you know that your JOY Team has been training in Conscious Discipline over the last year and are continuing to implement its practices into our classes? We have seen incredible changes in the behavior of our students and in our skills as educators. We want to pass on what we have learned to YOU.
This month’s post is regarding Conscious Discipline’s Skill of Choices.
When your child is starting to lose it just a little, and you can see their emotional and mental state slipping, employ the strategy of Two Positive Choices.
You see, when a person has some choice and autonomy, they feel in control. They feel safe. Their executive functioning remains intact. Many children start to exhibit negative behaviors not because they are bad kids, but because they are communicating that they have a need. And very often that need is for some control over their own lives. Even little children need control. So feed them a little power by giving them two positive choices.
You might see your Kindermusik educator use this in class. It might be something like responding to a child playing their instrument out of turn with “Sammy, do you want to put your drum in rest position, or put it back in your music tote?” Or perhaps when it’s time to put finger puppets away “Do you want to put the squirrel in the instrument tote, or give it to your grown up to put away?”
This is a fantastic tool to use at home and in your daily parenting.
This could look like “Do you want to clean up your toys by yourself or do you want me to help you clean up your toys?” Or perhaps “Do you want to brush your teeth before you put on pajamas, or do you want to put on your pajamas first?”
Both of these examples are structuring a choice that you, as the grown-up, can live with. Both of them will get the expected behavior done. But it’s giving the child a choice, some control, some power. And that feeling of power will help them feel good about themselves and promote cooperation.
Two positive choices are necessary because you don’t want the options to feel coercive. “You can put on your shoes now or you can miss Kindermusik today!” is not structuring the situation to enable your child to choose success. It’s punitive and coercive. Instead, try “Do you want to put your shoes on now, or do you want me to put them on for you in the car?”
“Do you want to eat your dinner or go to bed hungry?” is a classic example of a coercive choice. That’s not true choice. Instead, say “Do you want to eat your dinner, or put your plate in the dishwasher?” Same results, but less threatening and more empowering.
So when you see those facial expressions or body language start to show in your little one that signal “danger ahead”, stay composed. Offer them two positive choices. Give them the time and space they need to make the decision. And support them in the execution of their decision. Watch their emotional state rise back up.
Try it at home and let us know how it goes. We would love to hear how this tool strengthens your parenting skills.