Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pick Your Battles

We were about to go out this afternoon so I told my kids to put their shoes on and get ready to go. Four-year-old Eliana asked if she could keep her Tinkerbell costume on for our outing. Two-year-old Ami refused to wear his shoes. "Elmo slippers," he insisted. I smiled at my crazy kids, helped Ami put his slippers on, and shooed them out the door.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. You have to pick your battles. This is true with your kids, with your spouse, with your boss, with whomever.

Whether you want to "battle" with your kids on a particular subject depends on a number of things:

• How major/minor is the issue? (Hitting - Battle. Shoes on the couch - Up to you.)

• How many other things are you working on ingraining in your child simultaneously? A kid can work on learning approximately three different lessons at any given time. If you're working on teaching her not to lie and to look both ways before crossing the street, do you want to make speaking with an indoor voice your third issue or reserve that slot for something more important that might come up? Believe me, they'll be yelling next week too. You're not going to miss your chance. You WILL have an opportunity to teach them about indoor voices!

• What else is going on in the immediate environment? Did your child miss her nap? Is the baby crying to be fed? Are you stressed to get out the door and get to work on time? Is your daughter starving because you haven't gotten dinner on the table yet? Did she have a hard day in which she failed a test, was teased or bullied, or fell in the mud? Did YOU have a rough day in which you messed up a work assignment, had a flat tire, or argued with your spouse? Is it bedtime and you don't want to spend an hour arguing when it's time for the kids to start winding down? Your child's mood and emotional state, your own mood and emotional state, and whatever else is going on in your household at the moment is going to have an impact on her behavior as well as on your decision about whether or not to fight this battle right now.

Remember, anything that is an issue or a lesson your kids really need to learn is going to manifest itself over and over again. You will have plenty of opportunities to deal with the issue in the future, especially if your kids are young. Not only do your kids' immediate needs (food, sleep) need to come first, but any lesson you try to impart to them isn't going to sink in anyway if they're hungry/tired/upset.

Now I'll be honest. Sometimes I do tell Eliana an outfit she's chosen doesn't match. (And she has gotten to the point now that she will often ask me whether it matches.) But I know that not only is arguing over what she wears a waste of time and energy that I should be saving for the real issues, but letting her pick her own outfit also boosts her independence and self-confidence.

So let your kids pick out their own outfits sometimes. Even if you're not in a rush to get out the door. And even if you know you're going to get some funny looks because your toddler is walking around in Elmo slippers!

1 comment:

  1. Great post. Love the pictures! Asher has those same Elmo slippers!