How to Give a Child More Control: 7 Positive Ways to Boost Control and Confidence in Their World

Growing up with a father deeply immersed in the world of mathematics, my sister and I were introduced to the subject at the tender age of ten. With our father, a dedicated mathematician, and Yale University lecturer, learning mathematics was non-negotiable. Initially, he took on the role of our primary teacher, but as the complexity of the subject grew, he hired a dedicated instructor for weekly lessons while overseeing our daily practice.

While we excelled in mathematics, the relentless practice and the pressure surrounding it took a toll on our enthusiasm. By late elementary school, our proficiency in math was overshadowed by a strong aversion to the subject, a sentiment born out of years of obligatory practice.

We HATE Mathematics! Why can’t we quit?”

The battle against mathematics waged on in our household, and the more we expressed our disdain, the more adamant our parents became in enforcing the practice. Faced with a resounding “NO” every time we begged, pleaded, or nagged to quit, my sister and I resorted to a clandestine rebellion.

We devised a covert agreement: when our father left for the grocery store, one of us would vouch for the other’s practice, sparing us from at least two weekly sessions. It became a silent pact, a small act of defiance sending the message, “You can’t make us!” The struggle for autonomy in the realm of mathematics became a game of wits between us and our determined parents.

A Choice Could Have Altered the Power Struggle

Every human being needs to feel powerful, same goes with the kids.

The power struggle surrounding our mathematical education might have found resolution if only we had been given a choice in the matter. The visible tension captured in the image reflects the ongoing battle of wills between parents and children. Our pleas to quit fell on deaf ears, prompting us to resort to covert measures to reclaim a semblance of control.

The image serves as a poignant reminder of the dynamics at play, illustrating how the desire for autonomy clashes with parental insistence. If only the option to choose had been on the table, perhaps the power struggle would have given way to a more harmonious approach to learning.

The trick is to win kids over, not win over kids

Success in parenting often boils down to winning your kids over rather than attempting to win over your kids. It’s about building a connection based on trust, understanding, and mutual respect. By approaching parenting with a mindset of winning them over, you create an environment where children feel heard, valued, and encouraged to express themselves.

It’s not about asserting authority but rather about fostering a partnership that encourages cooperation and shared decision-making. In this way, the trick lies in building a relationship that stands the test of time, where both parent and child feel like allies navigating the journey of life together.

Here’s how to empower your kids:

1. Ask for Help

Engage your kids in household tasks by asking for their help positively. Instead of assigning chores, say something like, “Could you please set the table for dinner while I prepare the meal?” Express your appreciation afterward with a simple “Thank you.” This not only instills a sense of responsibility but also strengthens your connection with your child. Try incorporating this approach into your daily routine to create a positive and collaborative atmosphere at home.

This approach conveys a sense of partnership, making your child feel useful and valued. Acknowledge their efforts by expressing gratitude with a simple “Thank you.” This small act goes a long way in reinforcing the idea that their contributions are meaningful and appreciated.

2. Offer Limited Choices to Improve Decision-Making Skills

Encourage decision-making skills in your child by offering limited choices. For everyday matters, you might say, “You may _______ or you may _______. What’s your preference?” For instance, “You may finish your homework now or play for a little while. Which would you prefer?”

In more significant situations, present options like, “You may _______ and then _______ or you may choose not to _______ and not _______. It’s up to you.” For example, “You may complete your chores and then join your friends at the park, or you may choose not to do your chores and stay home. The decision is yours.”

This approach empowers your child to make decisions within defined parameters, promoting a sense of responsibility and control. Incorporate this method into your parenting to nurture their decision-making abilities and foster a healthy sense of independence.

3. Empowering Independence: Letting Your Child Take Charge of Task Timing

Give your child a sense of independence by allowing them to decide when certain tasks get done. While the task itself is non-negotiable, the timing is something they can choose. For instance, when discussing chores or homework, you might ask, “When works best for you to do your chores or homework? Maybe ___________ or ___________?”

After they make a choice, parents need to follow through with a blend of kindness and firmness. This not only reinforces the connection between decision-making and responsibility but also helps your child understand the importance of managing their time effectively. This approach becomes a valuable lesson in teaching kids how to balance autonomy with accountability.

4. Build Relationships Through a Routine

“In routine, we find both order and opportunity – a foundation for growth and shared accomplishment.”

Involve your child in creating routines for a harmonious household. Instead of being rigid, let routines guide activities. For example, say, “Check the chore chart before TV time.” This way, routines become a shared responsibility, instilling structure while empowering your child.

5. Crafting Solutions Together for Mutual Wins

In moments of conflicting preferences, initiate a conversation with your child by expressing, “I understand you have your viewpoint, and I have mine. How can we collaborate to find a solution that benefits both of us?” This not only promotes open communication but also reinforces the idea that working together leads to mutually beneficial outcomes. Encouraging your child to actively contribute to problem-solving cultivates a sense of accountability and shared decision-making within the family dynamic.

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Importance of These Skills: A Win-Win for Parents and Kids

Observe the transformative impact of these strategies on skill development in children. With just a handful of approaches, kids not only learn to actively contribute but also refine crucial abilities in communication, respectful negotiation, problem-solving, and integrity.

Suppressing a child’s autonomy leads to various strategies for retaining power. On the flip side, providing opportunities for greater control enhances family bonds, setting the stage for positive interactions and shared growth.

In conclusion, the journey of exploring how to give a child more control is a nuanced exploration of family dynamics, autonomy, and positive growth. By delving into the intricacies of empowerment, particularly in the context of a child’s struggle with mathematics education, we unearth valuable insights. Fostering a collaborative and understanding environment is key, as seen in the image of a parent and child engaged in a thoughtful conversation. The art of giving a child more control involves recognizing their need for autonomy, making choices a part of their learning journey, and ultimately paving the way for a harmonious and empowering family experience.

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