We know that children function much better on a consistent schedule, but some allowances need to be made to allow the children to decide things daily. If all decisions are made for them, research shows that it not only shortens their life span, but it takes away their ability to make decisions and to use their mind creatively in the future as an adult.
This is difficult because we think we know what is best for the child and we attempt to keep them from all harm. We "bubble wrap" them.
We have to get past this thinking. We need to unwrap the bubble wrap.
We need to empower children to make as many decisions as possible (with some guidance of course). They will make many mistakes. No question. They will fall. They may even get harmed. But this is good. In fact, the more mistakes earlier in life the better. Children are not afraid of failures as much as adults are. If they were afraid of failures, they would have never attempted walking, or riding a bike. It is much harder to teach an adult to ride a bike. Failures allow them to truly learn cause and effect. These failures imbed themselves in the conscious and in the subconscious mind and knowingly or unknowingly allow the next decision to be much easier. With time, and with a bit of discussion regarding the failure, they will begin to think about things at a deeper level, and decide more clearly and more appropriately. Their brains will be primed to look for the best solutions to problems.
This lesson can not be underrated.
Children need to be encouraged daily to make decisions. For a toddler, decisions such as toys, clothes, hat, shoes, how to arrange her stuffies on her bed should be hers to make. Their little developing brains will be making new neuronal connections with each decision.
School age children should be able to choose their friends (unless a very bad influence of course), their sport (this is a big one because often parents force their children into their favourite sport often), their books, their games (within appropriate age range), their clothes, their bedroom design and colours, their hair cut, what to order at a restaurant (given choices), what to have for at least one dinner a week (given choices), what backpack to take to school.... You get the picture. All the little daily choices add up to a kid that can think and decide with more clarity. If they want their bed backwards, let them put it backwards. If they wear mismatched colours, who cares? If they want shaved hair on one side, and long on the other, let them. It grows back. They need this creative freedom to develop optimally. Crazy decisions such as a mohawk are usually short lived anyway, then they have a "normal" haircut later, but their brain will have grown considerably with this decision making ability, and you will always have a great story to tell.
Does this decision making take WAY more time? Definitely. Is it frustrating at times? Very much so. Is it worth it? 100%.
When you have a child that can think for himself, make appropriate decisions based on past failures, you have a child that is self-confident, truly happy, and.....