Elena has a lot of them these days…It’s both fascinating & frustrating at the same time. She will express her displeasure if she doesn’t like the outfit I choose to dress her in. She seems to have realized there are drawers full of clothes & wants to have a say in what she wears. She will throw a fit if I choose the wrong blanket for bedtime…she doesn’t have any one particular blanket she loves so it’s a crap shoot from night to night. What might have been The Blanket last night may not be the one she wants tonight. She’s even gone so far as to completely meltdown when I didn’t slip on the shoes she had (unbeknownst to me) decided she wanted me to wear out.
It’s absolutely fascinating…seeing her have opinions & preferences, choosing one thing over another for reasons very meaningful to her…watching her discover that she possesses the power of choice & how she decides to use this new found power. To me, her choices seem very arbitrary but they are obviously very significant to her. The things she is choosing don’t seem to matter as much to her as the fact that she gets to make A Choice.
The frustrating part is that she doesn’t have the language skills to express her choices & opinions clearly (I’ll have to explain this further in a future post). So when I inadvertently pick the “wrong” outfit or blanket or shoes, Elena stamps her feet, screeches, screams, cries or any number of other reactions & I am left clueless as to why she’s so upset.
I am catching on tho…I show her a chosen outfit & ask her if it’s ok or I’ll just open the drawer (I removed the handles long ago to prevent her from emptying them for fun) & tell her to pick something. This has its downside since when faced with so many choices she inevitably chooses inappropriately, like 3 tops & no bottoms.
I do endeavor to give her as many choices & opportunities to express her opinions as reasonably possible tho because there is so much that is regulated & chosen for her. I want to teach her early that her opinions matter & that her choices have consequences. I want her to know that I value her opinion & will respect her decisions, even those I don’t agree with. (‘Cause you know those will come!) I want her to be strong minded & confident & hope that by giving her these opportunities for choice early, those traits will become part of her personality.
I have found that the more choices I give her, the more opportunities she has to express her opinions, the less frustrated she is in general, the fewer complete meltdown tantrums she has, thus resulting in me not being such a ball of stress & anxiety. That has to mean we’re on the right track, doesn’t it?