“Having just one choice is no choice at all. The more choices you have, the more freedom you have to be in the driving seat of your car.” Steve Bannister
“The whole point of NLP is having more choice.” Richard Bandler
“You’re not just a leaf on the wind.” Anthony Robbins
“We are making hundreds, thousands even millions of unconscious choices every day about what we pay attention to and what we don’t. And this is fine, provided those choices work for us. However, if we are not getting the results we want, we can learn to make new choices until we find what does work.” Sue Knight
“Identifying, acknowledging, examining, and employing our parts, rules, and inner wisdom help us transform our internal process and deal with present circumstances. By removing our self-made limits, we expand our choices.” Virginia Satir
In a family it is very important to make it clear to your children what are options and which are not. There has been a growing trend to encourage children to make choices even at a very young age, whether to drink out of a red mug or a blue one, whether to wear this or that dress. This is inclined to make children capricious as they assume they can make decisions about everything which isn’t of course the case and can lead to some very lengthy preparations for leaving the house! You need to prepare your children for accepting your decisions and make it clear when they can choose and when it isn’t possible or appropriate. You can signal this by asking ‘would you like to choose?’ when there is a choice.
It is useful to know whether the person you are talking to likes choices or not in each situation because you will have greater rapport if you give choices to someone who wants them and not to someone who doesn’t. 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.
Even when there appears to be no choice in the ‘what’ that we have to do, there is always a choice in the ‘how’. There is a choice also in how we communicate, what we choose to believe about a situation and a choice in how we frame it. We can use anchoring to choose our most resourceful state and we can choose to communicate in rapport. These choices give us flexibility which puts us in control if we choose to be.
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