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PICKING PARENTING BATTLES

I always tell parents to pick their battles carefully.

There is a very important reason for this advice. Much of the time we spend with our children is spent in telling them to stop doing something or asking them to do something we want them to do. We warn, nag, cajole, beg, and repeat ourselves a lot.

OK. Parenting means a lot of this. Our job is to socialize our children and kids need a lot of socializing.

But we get tired of hearing ourselves. And our kids get so tired of hearing us they tune us out.

Just the other day a worried young mother asked, “But HOW do I know what battles to pick?” She went on to say, “Everything about my child’s behavior is important to me. What my child does reflects on me and I don’t want to be criticized for being a bad parent.”

Her child is two years old. I can sympathize with how she feels But I have the following suggestions to make her life (and, hopefully, yours) a bit easier.

o Learn enough about child development to know what to expect at a given age. No two-year-old child likes to share. Of course we want our kids to be kind but it’s unrealistic to expect kind behavior at this early age.

o Realize that EVERYBODY ELSE understands and sympathizes with the parent when a young child misbehaves.

o Relax about criticism of your parenting. When a young child has a tantrum in public it does not reflect on you, it reflects on a kid who’s at the end of his or her rope and hasn’t yet learned skills to handle this feeling. What reflects on you is how you handle it (Carry the child out of the public place without saying a word). If you concentrate on doing the right thing to teach your child that tantrums mean removal from the scene, rather than your embarrassment, things will go better.

o Picking your battles means deciding which things are REALLY IMPORTANT, not worrying about all of your child’s behaviors, and learning the best strategies to deal with these. For me SAFETY RULES, NO HITTING, NO DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS, NO RUDE TALK topped the list.

o Ignore minor annoying misbehaviors like making messes or silly sassiness.

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