This weekend I spent quite a bit of time reading Gary Ezzo’s On Becoming Preschoolwise, and while reading was sharply confronted with the idea that my Little Man is addicted to choice. The examples hit home and made me realize that this is something I need to deal with. Now.
So what does an addiction to choice look like? In our house it can look like the following examples: When I offer Little Man a banana or a yogurt for breakfast, he’ll ask, “Uh, what are my other options?” While at swimming lessons this summer, his instructor explained the next activity he’d do. He responded, “No, I think I’ll swim over to that waterfall.”
Homeschool, with a choice-addicted preschooler, can be quite stressful. This is how most mornings look at our house:
Mom: Okay, it’s Bible story time.
Little Man: No, I want to play ninjas.
Mom: No, you can play ninja’s later, but now it’s Bible story time.
After finishing Bible story time.
Mom: Now we’ll practice our sounds.
Little Man: No, I want to read another story!
And on it goes for the next hour as we move from one activity to the next.
Unfortunately, I helped to create this problem by allowing him too may options as a young toddler in order to avoid meltdowns. Additionally, after I resigned from my teaching job in June, Little Man enjoyed a full two-month summer full of free play and never-ending ‘fun’ with Mommy, Daddy and Little Guy.
Needless to say, the transition from unstructured free time in the summer to a routine at home and homeschooling has been, and continues to be, a bit of a challenge. Identifying the issue, however, has been very helpful and has forced me to address the problem by allowing choice for when it’s appropriate but also helping him to understand that sometimes he doesn’t have a choice in what to eat, how to complete an activity or in how to behave.
Please don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of times in our day when Little Man has built in time to play, be creative, be imaginative, and to choose. However, accepting an adult’s choice and obeying with a happy heart are now the main order of business in our home.
Establishing a firm routine has been essential and has helped to ease some of the “battles” as my son at least knows what to expect each day. Similarly, I have found two other tools that allow Little Man some choice (or a perception of choice!) but help me to accomplish my goals and objectives for the day while leading to fewer power struggles with the preschooler: baskets and workboxes.
I’ll post more about these two tools tomorrow and how they help us to accomplish our work during the day.