22 Feb 2016

Choose Your Battles

I was faced with a trying situation at bedtime the other day. It was a highly volatile situation that could have so easily spiralled out of control. Thanks to my Vow of Yellibacy, it did not. 

Taking it a step forward, I think it is time to add another very useful arrow to my parenting quiver. This is where I choose my battles.

Choose Your Battles


The infant stage is the honeymoon period of parenting. Despite the sleepless nights, dirty nappies and constant feeding, you are so enamoured by your baby that they can do no wrong in your eyes. To be honest, at that age they really do not, cannot do much wrong.

Then come the terrible twos and battle lines are drawn. Once that happens, it is easy to get sucked into the vortex of dominant parenting. One where you expect your child to listen to everything you say and do exactly as they are told. Do this, don't do that, eat this, not that and so on.

Before you know it, you have a rebellious teen on your hands.

I have been rethinking my parenting strategy over the last few days and have realised one very important thing. If I am to keep my son's respect and trust as he is growing up, I have to choose my battles with care, starting now.

The focus has to be on setting reasonable limits with understanding and compassion. Would I like being bossed around in my own house? No. Then why do I expect my child to? Wouldn't it be better if everything was clearly explained at the outset, so everyone knows what is expected of them? It will undoubtedly save a lot of tears and tantrums come crunch time.

So, he can have a run of the place as long as we both know what is happening and when. He can watch TV, but we limit the time. He can snack after dinner, but we offer a mix of healthy snacks and junk food. He can be boisterous as long as we adhere to bedtime. He can spend hours getting ready for school in the morning, as long as we make it there on time.

Children, I have come to realise, are smarter than we give them credit for. Give them responsibility, explain clearly and politely what is expected of them, and they will, more often than not, see the task through. It is also an excellent way to build their self-esteem and confidence. 

How do I know? Because one day, a few months ago, I did not once ask my son to hurry up or risk getting late for school. I showed him the clock and explained that to reach school on time, we had to leave home before the big hand reached six. If we did not, we would be late. He sat playing for a while and then decided to get dressed of his own accord. 

Trouble is, I relapsed into nagging mode. Not any more. As I've said, I will be choosing my battles. I will intervene based on the gravity of the situation. The frivolous little things will be overlooked in favour of more important issues that truly require parental intervention.

Parenthood is an evolving phenomenon. You continue to grow as a parent, you learn and then you learn some more. I have learnt an invaluable lesson when it comes to parenting. The more you nag, the more the child rebels. Boundaries are best set with a dose of laughter. Choose your battles with care and consideration. It is the only way you will become and remain your child's friend for life.

17 comments:

  1. I absolutely live by that motto - I pick my battles over the things that are most important and then stick to my guns!

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  2. This has always been one of my moto which I still have to keep coming back too. I geel so sorry for my eldest son as he really is my practice child and am so much better and understanding and picking my battles with my youngest than I ever was with him.

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  3. kids are defo way more clever than we give them credit for! lol I realised this when I saw how much more demanding my son is at his grandparents than at home! They know who and how far they can push boundaries with from an early age x

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  4. oh I so agree with you as a mom to 6 you can imagine if I fought every battle with them it would be a never ending war some things just dont really matter at the end of the day

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  5. this is something I am only just trying to figure out - and something I don't think my mum ever did :p we were constantly arguing when i was a teenager! (or so it felt like)

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  6. Oh, I have had to do that myself many times. While my oldest was never really a challenge for me as far as listening, my youngest was a born rebel, just like his mama LOL! I have definitely had to re-evaluate how much fight to give in certain situations over the years and I have actually used the same train of thought about keeping his respect as he gets older. I don't tolerate disrespect in my house but I also have to be willing to give my boys the same respect in return. Picking our battles is a lesson worth learning in the parenting world:)

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  7. Oh yes, my daddy sometimes needs to pick his battles with two females in the house! ;) Just before bedtime is never a good time to stir things up and stand your ground, need to be more forgiving and loving before sleeping xx

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  8. I agree pick your battles and when the need arises, a slamming door sorts most problems lol x

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  9. You are 100% correct here. I'm definetley learning and growing as a parent. Children are way more clever than we give them credit for. I need to stop nagging and getting so stressed out all the time x

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  10. Definitely! Sometimes you don't, hear your own voice and think "oh, shut up"! Let some things slide otherwise your kids will just think you tell at everything!

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  11. I am definitely guilty of nagging too much - I love the idea of just letting them know what time we need to leave by and then leaving it in their hands!

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  12. i like you pick my battles, the teen is going through GCSE hell so we are "encouraging" revision rather than nagging

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  13. I'm definitely a nagger... and my 4 year old gets very frustrated with it! I think, instead of lounging around in bed in the mornings, we should just get up and start the day - then he might be a bit happier to get on with things and in plenty of time!

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  14. Choosing your battles is the only way you will survive parenthood! Haha my little one has been pushing the boundaries lately and it is driving me crazy

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  15. oh god this is such a difficult job to manage with kids .... you certainly have to pick your battles when needed

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  16. With three teens - aged 19, 16 and 13, as well as Pickle who is 3, I have learnt to choose my battles too. Even more so as they get into their teens. I did not want my home to be a constant battle zone. Great post, you are doing a great job! Kaz x

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  17. I am absolutely with you on all of this Vai. You do have to pick your battles and they learn the more responsibility that you give them. With an 18 year old son who is more sensible than me at times, I can really vouch for this approach

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