This was the first winter that Tshimo is an older school-going girl. The last two winters, we would just sit around the house with no worries about the freezing weather.

Now, we need to get out into that freezing weather and journey to school.

Also, Tshimo is much older than she was two winters ago. She has a bigger vocabulary and a preference.

The combination of both these elements is the bane of my existence in the mornings. And I am saying it’s a pain for me because I understand how cold it is outside and how she needs to dress up warmly. Her going out of the house looking its summer, while I have a jersey on looks crazy (from the outside).

She has no care of how warmly she is dressing. Just ‘how cute’.

So, most of my days are filled with “I don’t want to wear a jersey?”

It has been driving me insane until I paid attention.

She did not want to wear THIS jersey.

There is a pink jersey she likes with a tiara on. Every day after school, I put it in the machine so that she can, at least, wear a jersey. This strategy worked for a few days, and then, again “I don’t want to wear a jersey.”

What I do when I don’t know what to do is to do nothing at all. I step back and assess the situation. That’s what keeps me from getting frustrated and acting from a place of emotion. It doesn’t always work perfectly, but there is a recipe. I know it, and now and again, I use it.

Curiosity led me to wonder what happens if I limit her choices, but turn it into a game.

We have this high 5 thing we do when I want her to choose between stuff. So I raise both my hands and give her two options, and she taps the hand for that item.

She likes this game so much that she even says “I want to tap something” in some random instances. She likes feeling like she has a choice. I could imagine that it’s thrilling for a child growing from decisions being always made for her, to being able to make her own.

And I give her plenty of space to be independent. But some of her choices, like saying no to taking vitamins, are not the best and need some parental guidance.

So, to curb our current jersey issue, I give her options between her favourite pink jersey and a glittery one that could count as her second favourite.

I know for a fact she will choose the pink one, but the trick is that she CHOSE it.

This strategy has worked well for me, and although I had to constantly wash the same jersey, the expense did not outweigh the value.

I tried getting her a similar jersey, but she just preferred THAT one.

What strategies have you implemented when your kids want to make their own choices, but need some adult guidance?