"The doctor says you have to have a shot. Do you want it in the right arm or left arm?"
"Do you want to go to bed now or in five minutes? Five minutes? Ok, but do we have an agreement that in five minutes you'll go to bed with no fuss?"
Why does this little trick work so effectively? Because it sidesteps the power struggle. The child is in charge. You aren't making him do something, he is choosing. No one likes to be forced to do something. Here, because he chooses, he cooperates.
So how do you use this magic wand?
You might think of giving choices as Parenting Aikido. Instead of meeting your child's resistance with force -- which creates a power struggle, and, ultimately, a more resistant child -- you affirm his right to some control, but within the bounds you set. The result: A happier, more cooperative child, who knows you're on his side.
Dr. Laura Markham