If you are wondering How To Pick Your Battles In Parenting And Choose Your Battles Wisely then you have come to the right place.
Why Picking Your Battles Is Important
One of the most important skills you can learn as a parent is HOW TO PICK YOUR BATTLES WISELY.
Whether we like it or not, we are often the bearer of bad news to our kids.
Sometimes we need to blow the whistle when it’s way past their bedtime.
Other times we need to tell them “no, ice-cream doesn’t count as an acceptable choice for dinner” or “nope, sorry, you can’t go anywhere while your room looks like a pigsty.”
Do you remember having similar battles with your own parents or did you guys battle about something completely different?
Because trust me, there’s a good chance you clashed heads over something(s) and I doubt it was fun for either party.
IT’S NOT FUN BEING THE BAD COP
In fact it seriously sucks (surprise, surprise, I’m the bad cop in our home so I know exactly what it feels like to wear this hat)
It’s tiring having to constantly point out things that need to be done or could be done entirely differently or better.
Actually it’s downright exhausting which is why I’m going to suggest something radical and say to maintain your sanity you need to pick your battles wisely EVERY DAY.
Note: It honestly isn’t reasonable or healthy to clash with your children over everything they do wrong (imagine if someone watched over you like a hawk and nitpicked all YOUR actions).
With that being said, here are 5 tips for how you can pick your battles well:
1 KNOW WHICH BATTLES TO CHOOSE
Unless you want to spend every moment in high alert for misbehavior, it’s important to decide what sorts of issues you want to stand your ground on.
As far as most parents are concerned, safety and health are the two biggest issues in which they hold firm.
Your child may mean well, but they don’t always keep their own wellbeing in mind when they make decisions so it’s fair and expected that you will call out any dangerous behavior.
Beyond that, it is up to you to determine which behaviors pose a problem and which are simply bothersome (hint, hint: downright annoying).
Try to imagine your child as an adult. Think about their behavior now. Which issues are not acceptable for adults?
Obviously, you’ll want to steer your child away from those. Instead steer them KINDLY into the right direction by encouraging and modelling yourself the more acceptable, desirable behaviors.
Dangerous behavior = a perfect battle to pick
Harmless behavior = proceed with caution. You need decide if it’s a battle worth fighting depending on how much havoc it is causing THEIR life (and not only yours).
2 SPARE YOURSELF UNNECESSARY STRESS
If you try to correct your child every single time they misbehave, you’ll honestly wear yourself out in no time.
I PROMISE – YOU DEFINITELY WILL. That’s a quick recipe for driving yourself crazy.
First step to maintaining sanity is accepting that parenting is a challenge especially in the younger years.
Remember Rome wasn’t built in one day – it takes times for new habits to take root and lessons to be learned.
Often kids will make the same mistake countless times before the lesson is finally drummed into them.
As L.R Knost suggested, focus more on who your child is than what your child does. After all, you are growing a person, not fixing a problem.
Take a minute to decide if your child’s behavior is in need of correcting or if it’s just a harmless phase.
Telling a child to not take a favorite stuffed animal on car trips can be a struggle, but they may lose interest if you let them do it a few times first.
If they are older and have a messy room, is your expectation for perfection reasonable? Are they lacking time because they are busy working or studying?
Can you potentially meet somewhere in the middle? A good compromise could involve your child simply making the bed in the mornings – note: a 2 minute effort – and putting clothes onto a chair instead of the floor – once again: a 2 minute effort.
It still may not equal a perfectly clean room but a happy compromise could equal a battle half won.
3 DON’T MAKE “NO” YOUR DEFAULT ANSWER TO EVERYTHING
If all your child hears is the word “no”, they’ll eventually start to tune it out. They’ll get so used to being told that they can’t have things, they’ll develop a habit of coming up with ways to get them anyway.
Instead of saying no all the time, try coming up with an alternative response to their requests.
Maybe your child can’t have chocolate right now, but they can have some after dinner. If that’s the case, instead of saying NO reply: “sure you can have the chocolate, after you have eaten your dinner.”
Or maybe they are obsessed with playing video-games or watching YouTube. Instead of saying NO, you could reply “sure you can have some quiet time for 30 minutes, once you have completed your homework and chores for the day”.
You want to raise a child who understands that not everything is handed to them on a platter, that sometimes patience and hard work are required before they gain the reward.
By saying SURE YOU CAN HAVE OR DO THIS once a particular fair condition is met, you eliminate the incessant need to say NO, which is usually when battles seem to escalate.
This could be the closest thing you get to a WIN – WIN, happy compromise.
4 KEEP THINGS CONSISTENT
The best way to make sure that your child follows the rules and routines that you lay out for them is to consistently enforce them.
Ask any parent when trouble usually begins and it’s when they have gone off on a tangent that made their kids to think their rules were “bendable.”
If you want your kids to be in bed at 9 pm on a school night, make sure to stick with this rule. Even one night of bending the rules lets your child know that your rules aren’t necessarily set in stone.
The good news is if you’ve been inconsistent in dealing with an issue in the past, it’s not too late to improve the situation. Come up with a set of rules, go over them with your child and adhere to them.
Then no matter how small the issue, make sure that the rules of the house are always the rules. It’s easier to maintain a strong position when it is clear to everyone in the family.
5 REFRAIN FROM ARGUING
When a parent constantly argues with their child, they teach the child that he or she could potentially win control of that argument and situation by using an aggressive tone and words.
Please note there is a difference between arguing and speaking normally.
Arguing isn’t communication – it is just irritating noise. It usually has no winners, because the agreement isn’t reached with a kind and respectful undertone.
If you are facing a heated moment with your child, stop and say you will discuss the situation later when everyone has calmed down. Talk – don’t yell and walk away if necessary.
Your goal is to prevent the battle from becoming hostile because once the fire is alight it’s definitely not a path you want to head down. Trust me someone is bound to get burned.
Instead be the adult and choose to put your foot down when you can see the battle is becoming fiery. Agree to disagree and come back to the conversation when everyone is feeling more levelheaded.
This will minimize the chances of saying something you will regret and maximize your chances of preventing a battle before it begins.
It will also ensure that a disagreement with your child is something that they learn from rather than resent.
10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF ABOUT EVERY BATTLE
1 How important is this issue you are battling over?
2 In the long term is it serious or potentially not so serious?
3 What are the long term consequences of this behavior?
4 In the grand scheme of things does it actually matter?
5 Is your child generally well-adjusted and obedient in other areas of his or her life?
6 Do you have more important battles you should be focused on?
7 Are you over-reacting in any way?
8 Have you communicated your feelings in a calm, clear manner?
9 What’s the solution to this problem?
10 How can you reach a happy compromise?
FINALLY HERE ARE SOME HOME TRUTHS FOR YOU TO KEEP IN MIND:
– Pick your battles wisely. You honestly don’t have to show up to every argument you’re invited to.
– Be selective about your battles too – sometimes peace is better than being right.
– Sometimes we need to lose the small battles in order to win the war (you just need to know which are the small battles to let slide!)
– Battles you avoid fighting are not necessarily lost – to the contrary they can simply be battles not worth fighting for.
– Being strong doesn’t mean you have to fight every battle you are called to. True strength is in fact the opposite – when you can walk up from unnecessary conflict.
– Choose your battles wisely because if you fight them all you will be too tired to win the really important ones.
– Don’t let something that doesn’t matter cause you to lose something that does.
The wise choose their battle. The foolish battle everything and everybody. The ignorant convince themselves there is no battle to be fought. Toni Payne
You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it . Margaret Thatcher