Synergistic Parenting

Exploring Alternatives


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Often when we give our children instructions, they resist. That resisting may actually be their trying to be independent and stand up for themselves and that is desirable.

How do we get our children to do the many necessities, reduce their resistance, and help them learn independence? We can do all of these by exploring alternatives.

Instead of telling your child to put on a certain piece of clothing, ask whether they want to wear this one or that one. Whichever choice they make, they are doing what you want. And by choosing they are declaring some independence.

Instead of, it is time to take your bath and go to bed, ask whether they want to pick their pajamas or take their bath first. When you must give your child directions, you can use your imagination to give them alternatives.

One mother really enjoyed inventing alternatives with her two children, but one morning the older one said no to both choices of sox, and before the mother could think of what to say, the child said she wanted to pick her sox out of the drawer. Older children can create their choices as that daughter did. Let the older child select sox and dress or shirt, and as they do, make it a game of which ones go together best.

The only disadvantage is that you need more time for the child to make choices and perhaps discuss colors or other factors in making choices. When both parents are themselves busily getting ready for work, taking more time can be difficult. Each parent must decide what events are so beneficial that we create more time by spreading responsibilities.

With the teen-ager try brain-storming to find alternatives then discuss the results of choices.

Synergistic parenting requires us to be more creative and think more. Exploring alternatives leads our children to become creative in positive ways, and to learn independence under our guidance. And they resist us less, while doing what they must do.

Copyright © 2002 John F. Yeaman