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I Have a Choice

We always have a choice. Make it a good one!

Children come in all shapes and sizes. Some have learning difficulties and some have physical limitations. Some endure mixed messages from adults as they travel from home to home to see separated or divorced parents. Some have mixed emotions of anger, fear, doubt, and self worth. Some have a blend of several of the above issues and feel overwhelmed.

It can be confusing as they go into different homes with different parents and grandparents who are expecting different things from them. Trying to do as one is expected in one home while in another home may result in a negative consequence. Knowing the rules and expectations of each home and abiding within those limits when in each home becomes more successful and less frustrating for both the child and the adults.

It is like being in different places: School with its rules ( raise hand to ask question, do not speak while others speak, do own work, and like), outside with its rules (can be loud and can run but avoid the road unless given permission and while observing the rules of how to cross traffic areas, which side of the road to walk on and which side to ride a bike on, etc); there are inside rules (quite, no running, respect each other, and like); there are car/auto rules (buckle seat belt, inside voices, no food in vehicle, do not open door or exit seat belt until the vehicle is stopped and off, an like); there are play rules-take turns, share, each can be a leader on their time, each can choose a game or activity, play fair and like); there are store rules (inside voices, keep hands to self, do not ask for gifts or things, respect the staff and customers of the store, pay for items before leaving the store, and such); there are water rules: learn to swim, read the warning signs and follow instructions of the adult or life guard, no horse play, wear life jackets if required or if you cannot swim while on a motorized vehicle, no running around the pool, and such), in face-there are rules every where, in each home, and even when one camps out (camp site rules to ensure safety of campers from wild animals and from fires etc...). In each area, if a person attempted to abide with the rules that pertain to water when at school then this may not work well.

As children grow up they find that they may not like rules much. They feel that many of the rules are nonsense. After all, why can't I do this or that?

Rules would be easy to not follow if there were not any consequences or benefit attached to them. But in each area where there are rules-one will find that there are also consequences and benefits attached. Often children choose to do things their way and to avoid following the rules. They may lie that they did them, or they may just say no. This is their choice. With that choice-then also choose to experience the consequences. That part is the issue that many children fail to grasp as they attempt to blame the parents for their choices and for their consequences. Okay let us think about this a minute shall we?

Let's say we choose to cross the street as a car was coming and we get hit; or let's say we were in the store and we placed items in our pockets and left; or perhaps we use a shovel to attempt to rake the leaves; or decide we want to drive without learning how and without the license: If we get hit, go to jail, work hours trying to do a job with the wrong tool, or other-then are we saying that others are to blame for our choices? Sounds a bit crazy doesn't it? But, it is not different than trying to act the same in our homes or schools, but then blame the parents or the teachers, is it?

While we continue bucking against rules-we will continue experience the consequences that we chose. If we change our choice to obey the rules then we will find that we will then have benefits instead. It is a choice that is handed to a child each time they face a chore or a rule.

Maybe the child chooses to "pretend" to obey while not applying their best effort. They waste time trying to get out of working, and they then lie and say the work is done. The parent checks and repeatedly has to have the child to return to the chore so as to complete it correctly. Children sometimes think that this is mean! After all-they went into the room and wiped a surface or two and should (in their own mind) then reap a reward. If a parent allows the child to get a reward for a bare-minimum effort then how does this motivate the child to do their best? It does not. Children will continue with low motivation to barely do any task, expecting rewards and when adults-will be procrastinating, entitled-minded, lazy people who will not be able to hold a job; have healthy relationships, or exceed since they will be dependent, and will not be able to put their best effort into anything they attempt other than fun things...and those fun things will not be supportive of them as serious needs cannot be met; while they blame and complain.

Parents know this and they therefore know that their child must know a multitude of life skills and have the character of honesty, integrity, perseverance, dependability, responsibility in order to be able to leave the nest and to become successful and truly happy adults.

Sometimes parents are too strict; too busy; are not patient; may not model the skills and character that they require of a child-making it more difficult for the child to make the changes needed-yet a child has the choice to stop a pattern that continues to bring him or her consequences and to begin making good choices. Ultimately-the child has to choose and their choices will decide if they succeed or not.

Parents are not perfect and neither are children. Both make mistakes. Repeating choices however that keep each other frustrated as the same cycles occur while expecting a better ending-is again nonsense. Change breaks a negative cycle. Change is hard at first but it gets easier. Change builds. It is YOUR choice.

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