Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Making Choices

True story: I decided to blog this tip before I read my Dad's blog this morning.  You should know it made me smile.

So, on to today's tip.  MC has a really difficult time making choices.  Even the most basic of questions, like "what would you like for breakfast, MC?" are met with a raised-voice-clenched-teeth-bulging-eyes response of, "I don't know!"

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, well Scarlet, if he has a hard time with that question, why don't you give him a choice between 2 or 3 acceptable options?  Like we do with our 2 year old.

MC knew what he wanted for breakfast on this day!
"So, MC, would you like cereal or toast for breakfast?" is met with the same, or even louder, "I don't know!"  It makes for an inharmonious and frustrating morning for both of us.  One day not too long ago, I even forgot to feed him breakfast because I forgot to ask again after the first 5 or so I don't knows of the day.

OK, so now you're thinking, why even offer him a choice?  I mean, the kid's got to eat, and if he can't make the decision, make it for him.  Hmmmm....interesting idea, except if I choose, even if it's something he loves, even if he would have eventually chosen that same thing, he won't eat it.

Obviously, something had to change.  So, one morning, after the 2nd or 3rd I don't know, I told him that I was going to set a timer for 5 minutes, and when it rang, I was going to ask him what he wanted for breakfast and that he was going to tell me.

I have to be honest with you, the main reason I decided to set a timer was so that I wouldn't forget to ask again in a few minutes.  What kind of horrible mother forgets to feed her kid in the morning?  I genuinely expected another few rounds of I don't knows to follow.

But you know what?  For whatever reason, it worked.  And it continues to work.  When the timer rang, I got a very calm response of, "cereal, please."

I think MC needs a little more time to process requests, but he feels like he needs to give an instantaneous answer, so he resorts to I don't know.  The belligerence comes from knowing that he really does know what he wants but he doesn't think he can get it out fast enough (poor kid).  By letting him know ahead of time that I'm going to ask him, he has some time to think about it without the pressure of getting a response out within a few seconds.  I've been using the timer for other decisions or transitions for MC with success as well.

I find it immensely ironic that he has such difficulty with instant responses, and yet expects everyone around him to be able to respond instantly to his requests.  I suppose if he thinks that's the way the world is supposed to work, it would be very upsetting to not be able to do it yourself.

So I guess that's not really much of a tip, unless your family is experiencing the same type of dilemma, but for children who have difficulty with transitions, or processing difficulties or delays, a timer can be a wonderful thing.

This has nothing to do with anything,
but isn't this a sweet pic of my oldest son back when he was my only?


  1. What a beautiful solution.

  2. So proud of you for loving your kids, just the way they are. Each one is made is God's image and they are all precious! Keep up the great work Scarlett!


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