We’ve all encountered a zombie kid—you know, that do-as-you’re-told fellow with textbook manners, neat clothing, exquisite restraint, sticky sweet personality with entirely nothing to say for himself.
Sure, he’s compliant, he’ll follow orders, never talk back but he’s definitely not learning to challenge the world around him. Of course, it’s not his fault, he’s been trained to be a “great” kid (and yes, we all want great kids) but there’s something missing in this child’s life:
the ability to think, to choose and to do for himself.
Bottom line? A zombie kid will do as he’s told. At first thought, that seems great! Why encourage your child to think for himself (we already know how messy thinking kids can be) when you already know what’s best?
Here’s why: Because, eventually, that little zombie will have to either make his own choice, or go along with the crowd and although this may not be concerning when you’re living with a 2, 5, or 7 year old, it can be damn alarming when you’re living with a 13 year old.
Raising a thinking child takes effort and when you consider the alternative, it’s worth doing whatever it takes to ensure your child is navigating their own life according to their values, their preferences and their interests.
In other words a kid who practices making choices when they are little, will be strong enough to make smart, thoughtful, and skillful choices later. They will also know how to take responsibility for those choices, good, bad, or indifferent. And when amends are in order they’ll be willing to make them.
So, the next time your child is willing to make a choice around clothing, shoes, food, baseball, piano lessons, ballet, or anything else for that matter, stop and ask yourself, “Is this a chance for me to let my child choose?” Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure is worth a moment of reflection.