When Cat wakes up in the morning, I go into her room and we have a quiet chat about whatever is on her mind that day. She tells me what she dreamed about, and I remind her of what we have scheduled that day, if anything.
A few days ago, she climbed onto my lap and snuggled with me for a few minutes. Then she looked up at me and made a very odd statement. “Mom,” she said, “I am going to bite your nose.” I looked at her in surprise. “Please do not bite my nose” I said. “But mom,” she said, “I choose for me.”
I wasn’t sure what to say at first. I briefly considered telling her that she doesn’t get to choose everything, but immediately realized that that wasn’t true. There was absolutely nothing I could do to stop her from at least trying to bite my nose. I could tell her otherwise, but that’s a surefire way to ensure that she would try. I could fend her off, but she would keep trying. She might spend days trying. She would probably do everything she could to trick me, surprise me, prove me wrong. Thus is life with a strong-willed kid. Odds are that telling her that she doesn’t get to choose to bite my nose would be the fastest route to my nose getting bit.
Besides, I don’t want her to make choices because she feels trapped in them, with no other options. I want her to consider consequences and make choices based on that. So, I simply made an observation. “Cat,” I said, “Right now, we are cuddling together and enjoying each others’ company. Do you think that will continue if you choose to bite my nose?” She thought for a second. “No” she declared. “So what do you choose to do?” I asked. “Not bite your nose.” We cuddled some more, and read some books.
Good choice, kid.