You don’t have to win every battle …

If there is a phrase I have come to appreciate and rely on more and more during this parenting gig, it would be the little gem ….

you don’t have to win every battle, to win the war

Not saying, that life should be considered a war-zone nor a state of hostility the norm … just that sometimes it makes so much sense to pick your metaphorical battles carefully.

As the parent of one very head-strong little ma’am, and two teen lads, it probably won’t surprise you to read that I sometimes find myself at loggerheads with my darlings and these battles can be over the most fundamental things …. like going to bed, having a bath, eating vegetables or a choice of outfit etc, etc ….. possibly an endless list and you understand, I’m sure you do.

When a stalemate arises over any issue, such as one of those classics above, both the child and the parent have a “need” they are seeking to meet – the child has a developmental need to assert their independence and have their opinion heard and the parent has a need to assert authority and make decisions on behalf of a child not yet capable of making their own. When these are completely opposed, things can get ugly. Quickly. And then, yep, everyone’s cranky and it’s stressful for all. Groan.

I’d actually never, ever advocate a strategy of avoiding all conflict by agreeing to every one of the demands that kids make. That’d be taking the easy way out, and we all know that parenting was never meant to be a breeze. What I do suggest is establishing some bottom line non-negotiables which are just that – the things that you will not budge or compromise on – and then accepting a little flexibility around some of the other issues. You really don’t have to win every battle to win the war.

It’s amazing how quickly a parent-child power struggle can be diffused when the child believes they are gaining some control over their situation and it’s really very valuable it is for them to learn skills in negotiation and reasoning. Sometimes it’s as close to a win-win as you can get doing this parenting job!

What do you think? Do your kids try it on? Have you decided on your non-negotiables?

photo credit: Nomad Photography and edwick via photopin cc

Joining in with IBOT over at Jess’ place today. See you over there!





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10 Responses to “You don’t have to win every battle …”

  1. Eleise Says:

    This is a great post because I also think that we need to teach our children to play and fight fairly. I think children who are under the thumb and parents exert too much control have difficulties standing up for themselves and often become victims. I call it picking my battles.


  2. Mrs BC Says:

    I hate arguing with my kids, but there are things I just need them to do. I try to let things go, but only if they don’t matter – things like choice of clothing, activities, reading material, etc. If they feel they can choose stuff for themselves they are less likely to dig their heels in about things like eating at the table, cleaning their teeth, etc. I cannot have everything be a battle!


  3. Rhianna Says:

    Such wise words Shari. Choosing when to battle is almost half the battle right there. Just another balancing act to face, because naturally you can’t just not go to battle over some things.

    Also I just love your new look. Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses lovely


  4. Tegan Says:

    I have a very head strong 4 year old. We bump heads all of the time. I am slowly learning to let things go a bit more but there are definitely things that are a non negotiable at the moment. I am sure more will be more things added as he gets older.


  5. Janet @ Redland City Living Says:

    This is something that my hubster doesn’t always get eg we don’t like piercings or tattoos but hey, once your kids reach a certain age it’s their choice. And really, if that’s the worst of our worries then we’re pretty lucky!


  6. EssentiallyJess Says:

    There are some battles that need to be won for sure, and others that can be let go. For me the non negotiable is always attitude; is the child willing to accept no happily if I need to say it? If so, then there is a good chance the answer will actually be yes


  7. Emily @ Have a laugh on me Says:

    Sometimes I just don’t have the energy – BUT there are some things I will NOT waiver on – eg threats I’ve made. But if it’s small stuff and they are tired and being unreasonable cos they’re tired and not just being little SHARTS, then I might give in xxx


  8. Kirsty @ My Home Truths Says:

    Great advice Shari. I tend to be soft on the little things but I do stand my ground on the important things, especially at the moment with a very wilful 3 yo trying to throw her weight around….so very trying though!!!


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