You need to pick your battles with toddlers, and here are some battles simply not worth fighting.
We’ve touched on some battles worth fighting and now I want to focus on some things not worth fighting over. Three years ago I wouldn’t have even been able to begin thinking about writing something like this. I am naturally high-strung and uptight – though I am getting better – and the idea of letting some things go in a way that I don’t really like, well, it didn’t exist. Kids have a way of softening our hard edges, don’t they? While there are many things we don’t let slide in our home, we are learning that sometimes letting things slide is okay. In fact, sometimes it’s the right thing to do.
1. Their sense of style.
Pickles is into stripes these days. And she’s also into opinions. I’m pretty sure the other day she had an outright meltdown because she wanted to wear the shoes with the red flowers instead of the shoes with the pink flowers. I wanted her to wear the pink shoes because, well, she was wearing pink. She really really didn’t like that idea and wanted the red. Eventually I let her “win” because I realized this wasn’t a matter of her being naughty. She was just trying to express her opinion and tastes.
When we go to church where we’ll see many people I will pick our her clothes, or give her a choice between dresses. But during the week when we’re at home or not doing anything special, why can’t she just wear what she wants? Answer. She can. So what if it’s not matching and is half spiderman half ballerina. Would it even be so bad to take her to the grocery store like that? Previously I would have said absolutely it is not good. Now, well, I’m not so sure I even have the energy to worry if she’s wearing a brown belt with black shoes, if you now what I mean.
2. Their creative ideas.
For a while my daughter only wanted to color with a black crayon. I was getting a little worried, you know, that she was turning emo. Or that she was upset or depressed. Then I realized she liked it because it made the biggest difference and was the “brightest.” Not my version of bright, but I get what she means.
If children play games that make no sense, want to use their imagination in silly ways that you can’t quite understand, or if they want to color and do crafts without really producing a work of art then let it be. Your children will turn out like you in many ways, but they are different people. If we attempt to stifle their creativity or its expression just because we don’t like it, it’s irritating, or it seems weird then we’ll be communicating a message to our children that we aren’t really okay with them.
3. Arguing over cold hard facts.
You know how it goes. “Let’s put your jacket on, it’s cold outside.” “No, it’s not cold. It’s hot.” Meanwhile it’s 32 degrees outside with frost on the ground. Isn’t there a compulsion to argue some rational thinking into our children? I learned with mine the best way to approach this is to say the truth once then not to engage. My daughter is relentless.
“No, it’s not cold. Mommy, it’s not cold is it? It’s hot, I don’t want to wear a jacket.” The other day I heard my husband trying to tell her something true while she was arguing about something ridiculous. Like, “no the sky is not blue, it’s pink.” They went back and forth for quite a while before I suggested he just make her do what he wanted and not to engage in the argument. He also found that was much more effective.
4. Forming their opinions.
I suppose I thought I’d have little mini children similar to me. I’m a redhead. As of right now, I have three blonde children. This is a very visual example of how our children will not be just like us. They won’t think just like us, they won’t love all the things we love nor will they necessarily want to do what we do. That’s okay. If we attempt to argue with our children or convince them that our opinions are the only way then we’ll not only lose their respect but, gradually, we’ll lose our connection.
They will either tell us what they know we want to hear or they’ll feel inadequate because we don’t think they measure up. We should share our thoughts, opinions, facts and our life experiences. We should answer questions they ask. We should ask questions to get them thinking. Then, when they have thought and still don’t see the world like us, well, we know we’ve raised individuals.
Each mother has her own triggers. Some things will be worth a fight to us and not to another mother, and vice versa. The key is to determine what battles you’re willing to fight and what battles you aren’t, and then to stick with it. Think of your mental and emotional capacity as your “army.” You won’t enter into battle at every turn, particularly when some of the battles you are bound to lose. By engaging in too many battles you will lose your men. The more men you lose, the less likely you’ll be able to come out victorious. When you use up your mental and emotional energy fighting daily battles with your children that don’t get you anywhere, pretty soon you won’t have much left.