Sunday, September 21, 2008

Control Issues with Children

One of the major issues between children and parents is control. Children want it, and depending on the age of the child, parents do not want to give it up.

There is a way to control certain aspects of living with children by giving them the illusion of control. This is where Hobson's Choice comes in as a handy tool. The best way to illustrate it, is by the example of bedtime.

Suppose you want your six year old child to go to bed at 9:00 PM. You go into his/her room, where s/he is happily watching a cartoon show on television at 8:55 PM. You offer the following choice: "You can go to bed now, or at the end of the show (which will be 9:00 PM). What is your choice?" I don't know of many children who will immediately stop to go to bed. The child almost invariably picks the end of the show. Your child gets a bit of control, while you achieve your goal.

This type of behavior management tool stops being useful when the child reaches 8 or 9 years old. That's when they figure out that you have not given them a choice at all. Smile, because you used the tool for all those years before they "got smart."

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