Thursday, April 4, 2013

Too Much Choice

I recently read a great article over at Simplicity Parenting about choice.  The idea of the article is that it is all the rage to give children choices, and while it can teach decision making skills and give children a sense of control, it can also be overwhelming.  I totally agree.

I remember a trip to grocery trip when I had just returned from living abroad.  Used to grocery stores that sold one or two choices of everything, I nearly broke down in the shampoo aisle when presented with about 50 choices.  Volumizing or frizz control.  Pomegranate Peach or Tahitian Breeze?  For colored hair?  Dry hair?  Curly hair?  I was completely stressed out- I just wanted SHAMPOO.

But isn't that what we sometimes give to our kids?  Cheerios or Shredded Wheat?  Scrambled Eggs?  Or would you prefer toast?  With jelly or pb?  Creamy or crunchy?  On the Elmo plate of the blue plate?  Milk or juice?  Or water?  Sippy cup or big girl cup?  What color?  Fruit with that?  Grapes or strawberries?  Sliced or whole?  FOR PETE'S SAKE...WHO CAN HANDLE ALL THAT BEFORE 8am?

Both when teaching Kindergarten and now with my own kids I have found that children are calmer and less stressed when I offer less choice.  At first it was hard to replace those questions with statements.  "Would you like to sit down at the table now?" became "It is time to sit down at the table."  And, "what would you like to have for lunch?" became "We are having PBJ and peaches for lunch."  It was against my nature to be such a dictator (well, my little sisters might disagree).  But what do you know- it works!

Sure, I allow the kids choice in some things, but I limit them to a few easy options.  I have found that this makes the kids' lives a bit simpler, and it makes MY life simpler as well.  I am not a short order cook, a clothing consultant or a chauffeur.  We are eating what is on the menu plan.  You are wearing what you picked out last night.  We are going to get haircuts and then going to the park.

Steve Jobs, Barack Obama...a lot of bright, busy people are known for always wearing the same thing every day.  Why?  Because you can only handle so many decisions in a why waste brainpower getting dressed?  I get it guys, I totally get it.

Now if someone would just come along and make some of my daily decisions for me...

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree there has to be some limits. I got so tired of my kids fighting over the color of cup they wanted that they no longer get a choice! If I give them a choice I try to limit it to 2 options. Even i get overwhelmed with many more!