While we can teach our children that “the world is your oyster,” meaning they have the ability and freedom to do anything they want, it is also important to teach kids the power of choice. On the surface, this may sound like a contradiction — that the nature of choice is equivalent to limitation, but that is not the case at all. In fact, the act of choosing is empowering and will bring abundance into our lives.
Envision you have taken your child to an all-you-can-eat buffet. Their eyes grow wide with delight at the sight of all their favorite foods, especially the foods you never make at home—the ones that are maybe not as healthy for them. You could admonish your child and tell him he must eat some veggies before he can have dessert. You could even fill his plate for him.
You could do that, but what does that really teach your child? It teaches him that food isn’t fun, that there are limits placed on him by others, that he can’t have the good without the bad. It even teaches him that you don’t trust him to make good decisions. And these lessons will spill over far beyond the buffet table.
None of those lessons are the kind of thing I want to pass on to my child!
If we take a positive parenting approach instead, we can guide our child to choose for himself what he wants to select from the buffet.
Help your child by having him check in with his body and his Internal Guidance System (IGS) and ask: “How does it feel when I see tables filled with different foods?”
Does he feel giddy with excitement, or so overwhelmed by all the options he doesn’t know where to begin?
Have him visualize filling his plate so it is overflowing, and eating every bite. Again checking in with his IGS, how does he feel? If he can’t imagine how it would feel, you can help him remember how uncomfortable he felt after eating too much on another occasion.
Next, help him learn the power he gets by choosing. Help him visualize what he really likes the most, even if it is dessert! Guide him to take reasonable portions of the things he likes the most, with the knowledge that he has the freedom to get more if he still has room.
The first time you go to the buffet, your child may still go overboard and fill his plate to overflowing. He might even test your willingness to allow him to choose, and fill his plate with only desserts.
It can be challenging to stand back and allow this to happen, knowing that he may not feel well later. By allowing him to make what appears to be a “bad decision” you teach him wonderful lessons. He learns that he does have the power to choose, that choices have consequences, to learn from mistakes, to check in with his IGS, and to learn for himself what he prefers. Overloading on goodies and having an upset tummy later, or less quantity and feeling well enough to play later.
Now these are the kinds of lessons I want to pass on to my child!
This valuable positive parenting lesson on the power of choice will overflow to all of life’s bounty. By allowing, and even encouraging, our children to “cherry pick” the buffet line and select only the things they love the most, they get to experience feeling joyful, rather than just full!
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© 2014. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.