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Empowering Children with Choices

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  • Empowering Children with Choices

    Certainly there comes a point in our children’s lives where we need them to take on some added responsibility for themselves. Sometimes this happens naturally: Our child suddenly wants to be a “big kid” and do things for himself. As my son used to put it when he was 1 year old, “Me…do it…own!” The age in which young children want to do tasks and chores on their own is wonderful, isn’t it? The newness of their independence and capabilities is so exiting. It is the age of autonomy.

    Then comes the next phase: After children’s realization of their sense of autonomy comes their developing sense of initiative. It’s a difference of realizing what children can do versus what they choose to do. Suddenly, parents find themselves nagging when they once had to simply suggest clean-up as a fun game. We become engaged in power struggles and start to dread the moment when we must announce that it’s time to stop playing and put the toys away because we’re very aware of the response we’ll get.

    It is important that parents take care not to enable children during this stage, thus discouraging their developing sense of initiative, but to empower them. When we empower our children, they realize their capabilities and begin to learn valuable life skills. American parent educator Kelly Bartlett asks us to consider the following examples of statements regarding clean up time, as posted on The Attached Family online magazine...

  • #2
    I've often heard the argument that parents shouldn't help their children pick up their toys; that we need to teach them to clean up their own messes and teach responsibility for themselves. Therefore some of the "empowering" statements and actions in this article may actually be viewed as enabling.

    I personally think that helping children clean up toys, messes, etc. sets a great example and encourages them to keep going until it's all done. It doesn't make the task seem too overwhelming to a very young child. After all, I appreciate help when I've got a big job in front of me! And I think it is likely that if I show my kids that I'm there to help them, they'll do the same for someone else someday.

    Does anyone think that we should steer clear of helping our children clean up their messes, for fear of enabling them? Does anyone think it's a fine line with regards to a parent's place when it comes to helping kids clean up?


    • #3
      After children reach their sense of autonomy is in their development initiative. There is a distinction to realize that children can do against what they choose to do so. Suddenly, parents are stubborn when they just suggest a time cleaning as a fun game.