In the family you would similarly offer false choices to children who want choice so “would you like to do your homework with a cup of tea or a glass of milk?” Note that not doing homework wasn’t an option! Also, with ‘like’ and ‘homework’ close together in the sentence you are giving them a slightly hypnotic connection which might not have been present for them.
Parents need to know how to give choice when there is none because offering choices is not always an option when you want your children to get dressed to go to school by a certain time, eat healthy meals or do their homework. If you have older children you may not want to give them choices about what time to come home or where they go and with whom.
First decide on your compelling outcome. What end result do you want from the discussion or negotiation? What will you concede and what is non-negotiable? Simply going through this process has a remarkably calming effect and puts you in the driving seat. If for example the pick-up time is non-negotiable you can give them a choice of how they come home, with whom and by what means of transport. If the time you have to leave for the school run is non-negotiable give them a choice about getting dressed before or after breakfast or whether to wear a jumper or not, whether they need to give their shoes a clean.
There is always a choice, not just in terms of the ‘how’ but also a choice in how you ask. You can speak in rapport, using your child’s preferred language pattern – visual, auditory or kinaesthetic. If they are talking about what they don’t want e.g. “I don’t want to put on my shirt” mention something you don’t want in order to match them “and I don’t want to be late for the bus.” If they say ‘yes but’ or ‘no’ this is a mismatch pattern which you can still match for rapport by using the same pattern ‘yes but homework needs to be done first’ or ‘no, it has to be done first, then TV.
Learning about NLP means that we have choices based on more knowledge about ourselves and how we see our world and a better understanding of the other person’s world. We can then choose how we want to communicate with them.
Even when there appears to be no choice in the ‘what’ that we have to do, there is always a choice in the ‘how’. These choices give us flexibility which puts us in control if we choose to be.