As a parent, you’ll find yourself giving scads of bad news to your kids. Somebody has to tell them that they can’t stay up past their bedtime or eat ice cream for breakfast, right? The task is probably going to be left to you, and your kids aren’t always going to agree. Unfortunately, if you clash with them over every thing they do wrong, it’ll be exhausting for all of you. Read on for tips on why and how you need to choose your battles.
Save Yourself the Effort
If you try to correct your child every single time they misbehave, you’ll wear yourself out in no time. Not only that, but constantly correcting a toddler or young child while they’re trying to learn how the world works can be challenging for everybody.
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.
Teach Your Child to Listen
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 just saying no, try suggesting alternatives to the issue you’re handling. If you can’t get them to stop coloring on your walls, try giving them some paper to color on instead. This solution might get what they’re doing out of their system. Parents often devote too much focus to the short-term goal of stopping bad behavior and raise kids that simply obey the rules rather than making wise decisions.
Knowing 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.
Beyond that, it is up to you to determine which behaviors pose a problem and which are simply bothersome. 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.
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. If they aren’t allowed up past 9 pm on a school night, make sure to stick with it. Even one night of bending the rules lets your child know that your rules are “bendable”. No matter how small the issue, make sure that the rules of the house are always the rules.
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.
When a parent argues with their children, they’re teaching them to fight for control of the situation. By choosing when to put your foot down, and by keeping these battles from becoming hostile in the first place, you’re making sure that a disagreement with your child is something that they learn from rather than resent.