The subject of choice and being self-determined is important for helping kids buy into the Collaborative problem solving model
As kids grow , and it can be as little as 2 year old with their NO..s and teenagers in their attempts to gain independence , the ability and the opportunity to make choices and exercise autonomy is important. Often because their autonomy is thwarted in controlling schools they seek to reclaim it in non- appropriate ways in the home or outside of school.
However when we look at life there seems to be very little opportunity to exercise or generate choices. Even as adults we are subject to the authority of a boss or at least in many relationships we don't have individual choice but we make choices together with spouses, family members, kids, fellow employees etc. So in the context of family, community,work, friends etc , it seems clear that what must occasionally be restricted is not choice but individual choice. Cooperation opens up the way to so many more opportunities and choices despite the fact that individual choice may be compromised in some areas. We need to talk in the plural – we need to , or our problem , our choices. And even if we are pursuing our individual choices we need to take into account the perspectives and concerns of others. We also take into account the concerns of others because of who we are. As the Sage Hillel said – if I am not for myself , who will be for me and if I am only for myself – who am I ?
Kids' choice will depend on maturity and level of development. We won't give car keys to a child , put sugar and other unhealthy food on the table , allow unrestricted and unsupervised screen time or no bedtime- sleep schedule because it is not developmentally appropriate and does not serve or meet the developmental needs of kids. What kids want and desire does not mean that it meets their true needs and is good for them . And it is for this reason that their choices and autonomy must be limited and thwarted. However , we can invite kids to participate in the decision making, generating choices and solving problems in a collaborative way. In this way we support their autonomy ,set limits together with them and they thus learn to set limits for themselves, to take life principles and derive a limit from the situation itself
We are often told , that we don't have much choice and in the main the choice we do have is how we respond to situations. Now we can respond in many ways – we can respond in a way that we feel controlled, threatened, no choice – we have to be compliant , if not we suffer the consequences or we do something because of the prize , praise or some other extrinsic motivation. We can be controlled by desires, wants, feelings of anxiety, being controlled by the inside – the need to please , workaholic etc. Or we can respond in a way , that shows our autonomy , that we are authors of our actions and self-determined. When we are subjected to a security check at the airport , we do it in an autonomous way , because we believe this is the way to ensure safety . We are self-determined when we endorse any action at the highest level of reflection. It means being connected to your inner-being. Many of the things kids say , are said when they are not connected to their inner beings or being self-determined but merely seeking the path of least resistance , no deep reflection. Autonomy has nothing to do with independence or being able to choose what to do. It is making sure , that we become the authors of our actions and feel self-determined . For sure , there will be times that we feel less intrinsically motivated , and still we do these things