I stopped by at a friend’s the other day to drop something off and I was reminded of a valuable parenting tip I have learned and tried to live by.
Her daughter was being pretty stubborn about not wanting to do something. To some, that “something” could not be a big deal, but to my friend it was important. So, the advice that I passed on to her: Pick your battles with your kids. Then never lose.
You don’t want to fight with your kids for every tiny, little thing. It would be exhausting, and make your life pretty miserable.
But there are some things you just know you need to insist upon – whether your child likes it or not. Safety issues, for example, fall under the “non negotiable” category. Other things will fall under that category as well – but it is different for every family.
However, you need to let some things slide.
If you are willing to let things slide, then maybe it’s a battle you don’t want to bother picking to start with.
If you are not willing to let it slide, then it needs to be clear, that under no circumstance are you going to walk away without “winning”. I often let my kids know up front: “This is not one of those things I’m going to negotiate on”.
If you pick a battle, then engage in the fight, and then “lose”, you just teach your child that eventually, if they are stubborn enough and create enough of a fuss, you will give in. You may end up giving in on things you really don’t want to, or really shouldn’t – for your child’s sake. So, you must win. Choose your battles wisely.
It’s hard to decide what to put in the “let it slide” category vs the “must win ” category. Like I said before, different people/ families have different standards and values. You need to just decide what you are comfortable living with. There’s a happy medium. Some people pick too many battles, some pick the wrong battles and of course, we all know some people who need to pick at least one battle.
Of course, we all make mistakes. We have made decisions, engaged in fights we should not have engaged in, laid down the law and then realized we were wrong, let things slide when we really should have stepped in. Parenting is on a sharp learning curve.
That’s why along with the advice to “pick your battles and never lose” is the advice to “always apologize when you are in the wrong”. It also helps to remember that it is more important for your kids to be safe, secure, and develop character and values that will serve them well in their future than it is to be the “popular parent” for the night.