My son is at the age where everything is a battle. I ask him to clean up, he runs the other way. I choose one pair of shoes, he picks another. I plate what we are having for dinner, he wants chicken nuggets. While I am proud that he is asserting his independence, I am frustrated at the same time. Maybe he can sense I am trying to rush him along and this is his stall tactic or perhaps this is just another two-ism.
What's a mom to do? I'm not willing to chase after him or be a short order cook. I want him to "think" he's making a choice but at the end of the day, I remain in control. It may not be sincere but I have been known to cajole him into getting things done.
While I sing the clean up song and start putting his toys away, I glance in my son's direction with hopes that he'd follow suit. I lay out clothing/shoes that I'd prefer he'd choose. I offer him foods that no matter what he ate would be a well-balanced, nutritious meal/snack. Overall, he thinks he's making a choice but ultimately he is choosing from the options I have created.
As my son becomes more and more verbal and ever more dissonant, I am sure I will have to become creative in my negotiation tactics. But for now I can tell him, if you choose not to eat your dinner then you won't watch T.V. or if you choose not to listen to mommy then you will go to time out.
He is beginning to understand consequences and the choices he makes. He already recognizes when I am sad with a choice and has the where with all to change his decision.
I am certainly not looking forward to when my son starts questioning me and asks why he must do what I say or why he can't do something. I know there will be arguments and door slamming, however, I will not to stoop to his level and, as his mother, I know I will have to reason with him with a bit of finesse and a whole lot of matter of factness. I do hope that the path I am creating for him now will help him on his long, arduous road of multi-faceted decisions that he will make in his lifetime.