Parenting and Picking Your Battles

Parenting and being a parent is probably the hardest job a person can have, but also the most rewarding. There is one thing however that does not change no matter what parenting style you have chosen to use with your children and that is the battles you will have in regards to authority. Here are some tips that may help...

Learning to pick your battles is an essential parenting skillParenting and being a parent is probably the hardest job a person can have. It involves long hours, sacrifices, and constant adaptability. It is also the most rewarding job any person can have. The method of raising children changes over the years as more and more information is provided and more studies into what works and what does not are presented. There is one thing however that does not change no matter what parenting style you have chosen to use with your children and that is the battles you will have in regards to authority.

It is the nature of children to rise up against their parents on issues when they are younger to see what they can get away with as they grow older to gain their independence. As a parent it is important to know when to stand your ground and when letting the child make the decision for themselves is appropriate. It is also probably one of the hardest things as a parent to master. You do not want to compromise the discipline and authority that as a parent rightfully needs to be with you but you also do not want to hamper the growth of your child or cause them to become overly rebellious. Sometimes it is like walking a tightrope between the two.

Luckily, there are a few things that you can do that can help form the dividing line for you on when to enforce your position as a parent and when to let the child’s way stand. The first thing to do is set up a list of items that are absolutes. These are things that deal with health, education, or contributions to the house. They should be listed in age appropriate order if you have multiple children.

Children are naturally going to object to going to bed at a certain time, having to come in at a certain time, and having to do chores. Teenagers are naturally going to want to stay out with their friends, do odd things to their hair or come up with unique fashion styles that make you as a parent cringe and of course there is the "everyone else is doing it" aspect that comes up quite frequently leading to a wealth of frustration as a parent.

The first thing to do is listen. This is an essential parenting skill, to listen without any prejudements or without jumping to conclusions and trying so solve or fix a problems on the spot. Automatically saying no to everything that comes up is going to end up creating more battles that are totally meaningless. If your teenager wants to change their hairstyle you may want to go ahead and allow it even encourage it provided it is not something that would get them banned from school or work activities. Compromise is the name of the game when it comes to older children.
They want to be individuals but are not quite up to being independent. Important battles are studies and being safe. Knowing where your teenager is and what they are doing. If they want to stay out late, consider the day, how late and who they will be with. Enforce the rules on school days, or insist homework be done before going out and give a little leeway on weekends.

You can still compromise with younger children however the compromises should be smaller as authority needs to be maintained and younger children are always testing the boundaries of what they can and cannot get away with. Let your children know that there are certain areas that are fixed; these are the important areas, the things you will not compromise on. The rest of the things that come up be willing to listen and give it consideration.

Children are less likely to rebel if they are at least heard. Establish precedence for your children. Talk with them and have them understand that there are some areas that you are not willing to back down on. That are routine and established and the reasons why, if they are old enough to understand. On other matters, be willing to listen if appropriate compromise but have the child present the reasons why you should compromise or allow them to do this and what they are willing to do in exchange. This helps to teach responsibility, logical thinking and will help to eliminate a number of battles that are meaningless while maintaining the structure necessary to promote the health, well being and growth of the child. It may take a little practice and initially there may be quite a bit of frustration but maintaining your position as a parent on the things that are absolutely essential is important.

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  • Children (as well as pets) push the envelope to the limits. You need to stay strong, don’t capitulate, nor use force, bad language or yell. Stay calm and hold your ground.

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