The parent’s job is to train their children to make good choices.
I’ve learned to give them an array of mini-choices in their pre-school ages. I’ll give them two options, “You can wear this or that, it’s your choice.” But before I set them free to choose, I offer my advice: “If you wear this, it won’t really match, and it will look a little weird. But if you wear this, it will look very cute.” In a more serious situation, it may sound like this: “You can choose to share or not, but if you choose not to, tomorrow no one will be allowed to share with you.”
There’s limits to this freedom, of course. On picture day, I’m going to override my daughter’s privilege to choose to wear a baggy red t-shirt, pink skirt, and snow boots. But in general, feeding my children bits of age-appropriate freedom has kept them from biting at the bit, and fighting me on all my rules. It helps them realize that they are responsible for their actions, and causes them to come to us for help, which is exactly what we are hoping for.
If we can inspire them to make good choices now, then we can look forward to watching them make good choices when they are grown.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6