5 Ways to Create Kid Choices, Independence, and Fill Their Emotional Power Cup
January 13, 2023
When your little baby hits a certain age and you begin to have daily power struggles. Struggles, such as back talk, temper tantrums, and ignoring you; it’s time to think about filling their power cup. Filling the power cup means giving more choices, and independence, aka power over their day-to-day lives. You may have heard me mention filling an Attention Cupbefore but this one is different. Both cups are strategic ideas to create a happy and balanced kid. Those cups can help us parents keep our sanity and choose our battles.
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Do you find yourself constantly fighting with your Toddler? If you have to say no more times than you ever thought possible? Your kiddo is unhappy more than happy? It might be time to think about how often you are filling their Power Cup.
What is a Power Cup? It is your child’s ability to practice using their independence and decision-making skills. Training for some real-life shit here people. Do you want your kid to have power over their feelings, achievements, and world? This is how we get it started! Think about how awesome you feel when you have learned a new skill, mastered a fear, or made a hard decision. Kids can be empowered in the same way. In fact, they actually crave it!
Here are 5 Ways to Create Kid Choices, Independence, and Fill Their Emotional Power Cup
1. Keep it Simple
If you are introducing the concept of choosing the most important part is to keep it simple. The younger the kids, the simpler the task, choice, or power option should be. You want to give choices that reach your ideal end goal either way. The easiest and fewest options possible. When you ask the power-giving question- “Are you ready for bed?” 99% of the time these kids will choose the opposite of what you are asking. They will choose their favorite word, NO! Yes or No questions seem simple but trust me, they are not. Give options like this- “It’s bedtime, are you going to walk up or will mommy carry you? It’s dinner time. Do you want the red plate or the blue plate?” Two simple options that direct them to the same end goal. Gives them a choice but still gets the task or movement done.
2. Stay Consistent
Once you make the offer of a choice or independent plan do your best to continue. Stay patient. If you choose a battle then plan to stick with it. Changing back and forth from you having the power play or the kid is confusing. “You let me choose my plate color yesterday but not today? You waited for me to climb into the car seat yesterday but not today?” This one is HARD. We, parents, get distracted, overwhelmed, and impatient. Some days you just can’t wait. This is one is just a do your best and forget the rest.
3. Follow your Routine and Create Rituals
Routines and Rituals will help with that #2, Staying Consistent. The time on the clock helps but that doesn’t matter as much as the order of the day to little kids. Get dressed, have breakfast, playtime, lunch, quiet time, etc. When kids follow the same order most days then they know what is coming next. When they know what’s coming next they have a sense of emPOWERment. This is the easiest way to fill that power cup. Just put in a good routine and go with the flow.
Kids can even learn what choices they have during the routines. “I can brush my teeth sitting or standing. At bedtime, I get to pick the stuffy to sleep in my bed with me.” You can even emPOWER them by getting them to tell you what’s next during the day. When it’s playtime you can have them help you make a ritual of the order you play with and clean up the toys. Blocks first, then puzzles, etc.
Check out my resources for Creating Rituals and Routines in your home!
Ask the kids to help! Help with chores, carrying things, folding things, cleaning up, deciding what book to read, what kind of snack to eat, etc. Just remember don’t do those open-ended questions -yes or no. That’s more power than they are ready for. “Can you fold the red socks or the blue ones? Do you want to clean up the blocks or the puzzles? Do you want to read the Bluey book or the Strawberry Shortcake one?” You can also ask them to help you with the routines by reminding you what comes next or choosing something to add or change.
5. Thank, Reinforce, and Explain
Thank your kids- when they are helpful and when they make a good choice. Remind and explain to them why a choice they made is helpful or good. We tend to do a great job explaining and reinforcing when they are trying something new but when it’s an old choice sometimes we get impatient and forget. When this happens to me I always try to imagine teaching the, is like building a bridge from one side of the Grand Canyon to the other. Each time they try or I remind them it’s a plank on the bridge. That’s a long bridge! But one plank at a time you will make it! They will learn and feel powerful along the way- not just at the finish. That image of the bridge reminds me again of the importance of staying consistent. Sometimes when you have inconsistency- planks can fall!
The Power Cup is just as important to parenting as the Attention Cup
When these two cups are full it makes things like conflict, teaching, and daily life with kids easier, happier, and more fun! Just remember the 5 Ways to Fill that Power Cup!