Making good choices is some of the worst advice we give to each other and especially our children.
I remember being told when I would leave the house, "Make good choices."
This was in addition to the ask about where I was going and the instructions about how I could walk there.
I was raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the 1960's and we were free range kids in a city that had mean and gritty streets. I was allowed to walk on West End Avenue and 72nd Street. I could walk on Broadway but not on Amsterdam Avenue or Columbus Avenue, but I could again walk on Central Park West. I had to be home before dark. Once I left, my mother had absolutely no idea where I was and she had no way of finding out. I took full advantage of being a kid in NYC and roamed far and wide and had many experiences one could only have had in that time and place.
I was told "Make good choices".
In my teens, I would leave the house in clothing that were "good choices". My destination was Central Park's Bethesda Fountain where all the hippies were hanging out. All my friends from school were there as well as a huge assortment of kids from other schools and the adults who were really creating the scene.
By the time I hit the street, I had rolled up my knee length skirt so that it was as mini a mini skirt as I could create. Or, I would wear a short dress with jeans and then take the jeans off. You get it.
I made good choices....I chose to make my mother believe I was dressing appropriately.
I would choose to change my clothing after I left knowing she wouldn't find out and therefore, my choice was an excellent one because I did not get into trouble.
What she taught me was that since I knew what she EXPECTED, that making good choices meant that I was doing what she EXPECTED ME TO DO.
When I came to motherhood, it became clear there had to another way (in all things parenting, but let's just stick with this topic -- why making choices is a terrible thing to say).
What I realized was that I wanted my kid to see ALL OF HER CHOICES because I wanted to teach her HOW TO MAKE DECISIONS.
Ultimately, what I did was make decisions to be deceitful as a kid, to do what I wanted, to lie and to get away with it all leading to a very unhealthy relationship with my mother.
I didn't choose to deceive my mother. I decided to deceive my mother based on the choices I thought I had in front of me. It was actions that I took that flipped it from a choice to a decision.
Change your advice to this strategy:
Let your imagination run free and see ALL OF YOUR CHOICES.
MAKE DECISIONS based on what is most beneficial for you so that you achieve what you truly desire.