Last night I attended a workshop on the fifth power in Conscious Discipline, the Power of Free Will. It was a great workshop, and I am looking forward to attending more of them.
The power of free will is all about giving children two positive choices when they are confronted with something that they need to do. Examples are cleaning up their messes, getting dressed, or anything else where you can give them a choice about what to do first.
So this afternoon I put this new power to work. I had watched a few children build towers in the block area, amazed how well they were cooperating and collaborating. Of course, after they were done building, they walked away. I rounded them all up and told them it was time to clean up their mess, but one little girl did not want to clean up. So I gave her a choice: she could pick up this block first or this one; which was better for her?
Of course, she said no. She didn’t want to. No. No. No. But I kept saying: this block or that one? And after about twenty times, she picked up one of the blocks! Well, I made a huge deal. “_______ made a choice! She picked up a block!” While I said this I whooped and clapped and made a very big deal about her choice. Well, that was it for the other kids. They all wanted to make choices. So they would each take turns, while I asked them, “Do you want to pick up this block or that one?” And every time they made a choice I would whoop again and make a huge deal of their choice. It was great, and the block center got cleaned up in record time!
The only thing I worried about with it was, after a while the children would pick both blocks. I hope that this does not cause problems later, like at times when I need them to only make one choice. I probably should have stopped them and made them just choose one, but I really didn’t think about it until later, when I was reflecting on the experience.