We do this almost all the time anyway--pancakes or bagel for breakfast? Pink coat or blue coat? It's become almost second nature at this point, but she definitely wants to choose what she wants, and if she doesn't get a choice, she'll almost always dig in her heels and refuse.
The other thing she struggles with at school is transitions. She doesn't like coming in from outside. They've started giving her five minute warnings before they ring the bell, and she is told that she can then choose to come inside with the other students, or she will have to be the first one inside next time.
We do the same thing at the park or when we are with friends, giving a verbal warning so she knows that our time is nearly up. And we do lots of prep work on the way to the park about how she needs to leave without fuss.
I know she hears and understands this, because these are the same scenarios she recreates with her dolls or characters, or when we play Family.
So mostly these techniques work--except when they don't. And we've gotten pretty used to this kind of discussion with her, but it can be tiresome. Sometimes I feel like my whole life is a negotiation with a three year old. It turns out and David and I do negotiate with terrorists.
While I want her to experience autonomy and independence, I also want to ensure that she recognizes there are some non-negotiables in this world. I mean basic social expectations like, oh, I dunno, maybe don't bite your friends on the freaking face!
I've read enough about child development and the Montessori approach to education in particular to know that blind obedience or obedience out of fear is not what you want to instill in your child, at least not if your goal is to raise a morally and ethically responsible adult. But man, it sure would make life easier sometimes. I definitely have days when I find myself wanting to say "BECAUSE I SAY SO." Or "JUST DRINK YOUR MILK OUT OF THE CUP I ALREADY POURED IT IN FOR THE LOVE OF GOD."
I want Zuzu to think for herself, and I want her to be confident and assertive. But sometimes I also want her to just do as I say without further discussion. I mean really.
But since I'm supposed to be the responsible adult here, I make sure that the choices I offer are both acceptable (to me), that the consequences for her actions are reasonable (and not terrible for me), and that she knows her behavior makes me upset when she's naughty, but I love her no matter what. Even when she's Annabel Lector.
I think most of the time David and I are in charge, but sometimes she sure gives us a run for our money.