Giving Toddler Choices: Win The Battle of the Wills

by Kathy

Going through that phase where your toddler wants to pick out his or her clothes, and every choice you suggest seems to be the "wrong choice"?

This is what we found worked. We gave them a choice...that way they still felt that they were making the decision. Select two shirts and ask, "Which shirt would you like to wear?" If you have twins or siblings that share clothes, take three shirts out so each child gets the opportunity to choose.

This technique also works for the red Elmo shirt that they want to wear 6 days of the week. Before you say, "No!" which is a word they feel they are hearing a lot of these days, or give in and buy 5 more identical shirts, or start a load of wash just for Elmo...take a minute and explain that the shirt is dirty and even show them the shirt in the hamper. Tell them when they will get to wear the Elmo shirts and then offer two other choices. With an older toddler you might even mark it on the calendar. You will find that they will be more likely to accept picking one of the two choices you offer. Extremely important tip: Be sure you follow through and let them wear the Elmo shirt the day you specify!!

Giving them limited choices also helps to minimize the chances of your child going out in public displaying the "clown effect"...the brown pants with pink trimming and the green shirt with purple stripes.

This approach can be used in other situations such as picking a certain cup or a pair of shoes.

Like most behaviors, it is not an overnight transformation. It can take several days or several weeks especially if they have been winning the battle of the wills. Even with success you may have occasional days of extreme testing to see if they can get their way...this is where consistency will pay off. While it is so much easier to give in, just think about what the next few days will be like if you do.

If you are like our family...there are other morning battles we are addressing! :)

Comments for Giving Toddler Choices: Win The Battle of the Wills

Click here to add your own comments

Perfect Method for Getting Positive Toddler Behavior
by: Jennifer

We have been facing this exact situation! We started giving our son choices in the morning and it has worked wonders. It did take about two weeks but by being firm about the choices, he slowly has become very happy selecting from the two shirts that we offer him. One morning battle solved!

We also were having melt downs in the grocery store so we tried it here as well. This is something we are still working on but we already see some results!

Thanks for sharing a great technique. I encourage others to try it. The most important thing we found is to be consistent. If you give in, it is like taking two steps back! Consistency is the key.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Share Your Toddler Articles .