Want to reduce power struggles in your home? Try giving your kids more power.

No, we don’t mean letting them set their own bedtimes (yet) or choosing the furniture for the living room (unless you really like pink couches). We mean the simple things — such as, for instance, letting them order their own food in restaurants.

Next time you are at a sit-down restaurant, allow your children to talk directly to the server. Let them order their own drinks and meals, rather than going through you. Not only will this show your little ones that they are capable of such a task — a huge self-esteem boost for very young children — you also will teach them how to have confidence when asking for what they want from an adult. (So many messages are sent to children not to speak to strangers, so this is a wonderful opportunity for them to connect with adults in a positive way.)

How old can they start? As early as possible. Every child is different — and only you know yours — but most kids are ready to order for themselves by age 3 when given two choices.

One note: If you think your child is not speaking loudly enough when ordering, avoid correcting her to “speak up.” Let the server ask her to repeat her request. This way she will learn on her own to speak louder if necessary and you don’t create undue discomfort or anxiety for her. Plus, you will be surprised how much servers can hear if you keep quiet and let the interaction happen without interference.

Already letting your kid order her own food? Good for you! Now think about other similar areas in your life where you speak for your children when they could be speaking for themselves. This could be RSVPs for parties, buying things at a store, student-teacher conferences, or even making play dates or other appointments.

Give children the opportunity to be capable of “more” and they will show you how capable they really are.

 

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