As a mom, you learn to pick your battles. In other words, not every hill is worth dying on. However, There are some parenting battles that are worth fighting. Here are my top 5:
What is it that they say? You should pick your battles.
I remember thinking that was something of a cop-out, as though doing what was right was too hard to do each and every time.
Then I grew up, had children… and grew up some more.
There are some parenting battles worth fighting.
Plus, I realized that what I think is right isn’t always right.
I realized that many issues over which I would have fought to the death over previously, weren’t all that important really.
Consequently, I have come to realize there are certain battles in parenting worth fighting and there are certain battles that aren’t.
Before you choose a silly hill to die on, think about what you’re willing to dig your heels in for.
Parenting Battles Worth Fighting
#1. Manners & Etiquette
When it comes to matters of politeness, I choose that hill to stay and fight on.
Lately my 2-year-old has started declining to say “thank you” when we ask her to in front of another adult. Whether they’ve given her a gift or told her something nice, we usually look at her and say “can you say thank you?”
Previously this was fine.
Lately, she won’t say a word. I am pretty sure the last three times she has refused, I popped a few blood vessels.
At first I wasn’t sure if it was an isolated event, but today when she out right refused I realized I had to actively train her beforehand and then respond appropriately if she doesn’t comply.
We are working on a strategy for this. In this area, we are not willing to let this battle go. We may all end up dirty and wounded, but dadgummit, a well-mannered person is something important in life.
#2. Naps & Bedtimes
Aside from the fact that I can tell firsthand How Important Sleep Is for Children, and conversely the lack of sleep, I can’t count the number of articles I’ve read recently citing lack of sleep as one of the roots of ADHD, inability to focus, and even brain developmental delays.
Of course getting a good night’s sleep is not a cure for every ill, but still….
Sleeping ain’t no joke.
Naps only last for a few years, and Even Adults Need Healthy Amounts of Sleep to Function properly. So, this is an area we fight for.
Sure, they can miss a nap or two on the occasion and even go to bed late for a good reason. Most of the time, though, they nap and are in bed at a good hour. I know this is good for them.
The whole household suffers when they are overtired.
#3. Following Through on Your Word
If you issue a silly command and then realize you need to take it back, by all means do so. (I’m not suggesting we go forward with a bad idea simply because we started it.)
That’s called escalation of commitment, and I think it’s a bad thing.
However, most of the time when we say something is going to happen it is usually rational.
- If you tell them “no biting or no park” then you better be prepared to stay home.
- If you say “eat all your dinner or sit here all night” then I hope you’re willing to pull an all-nighter.
- Only say what you’re willing to do and do what you’ve already said.
Your kids will not remember many isolated events in which you kept your word, or didn’t, but they will most definitely remember if you are a person of your word.
Being a person of your word is a battle worth sustaining some injuries over. ;)
Read: 5 Phrases to End Dinner Time Battles Once and for All
#4. Chores & Helping
I’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t do things for your kids they can do for themselves.
Well as a mother of 3 (now 4) I have that reminder going through my head constantly. If my kids ask me for something I think they can do for themselves – even if it’s a challenge – I ask them to try first.
Cleaning their room must be done when asked. If I ask them to help me spur of the moment and they fight it, I’ll push until it’s done.
Read: Time In Vs. Time Out … and is Time Out Damaging Kids?
If we let chores and helping slide when they are young it’ll be increasingly harder to get their cooperation and assistance in later years.
#5. Health & Safety
Children, funnily enough, Do Not Know What’s Best for Them.
- They think climbing bookshelves and jumping off chairs are good ideas.
- They love jumping on beds, playing with cutlery, and running terribly fast downhill.
- Kids are made to try these things and we are meant to teach them some restraint.
- If they don’t want to mind you when they are putting themselves in danger – well – who cares what they want?
A mother’s job is to protect her children and teach them to protect themselves. When they want to fight you on a matter of safety, this is a good hill to go down fighting on.
Check off critical household, social, and hygiene skills for your child so they’re prepared (not petrified) of growing up!
Each family’s battles will be different, but there are surely many we all fight.
I’m curious what you do when your daughter refuses to say thank you? we are currently battling this as well with our two year old daughter. It is SO embarrassing, especially because it almost always happens at church or at preschool (which is at church)!
Rachel Norman says
I feel your pain, Betsy, almost all the refusals are at church as well. Sheesh. Since we’re still in the midst, I can only offer you our current strategy which is to tell her beforehand what we expect. So far it hasn’t come up again, but before we go somewhere I just say “When I say to tell Ms. So-and-So ‘thank you’ then you need to say ‘thank you'”, etc. I am hoping this will help. Let me know if you have a better idea :)
Katelyn Fagan says
My battles worth fighting are different than yours. :) But, I’m sure that’s probably the case for most families. I totally agree with #2. SLEEP IS IMPORTANT! And #5 of course. Safety first! We have set rules like no standing on chairs on being on top of tables, etc so that they don’t hurt themselves, and other rules. But, I’m not as strict with hygiene. I mean my kids get a bath like 2-3 times a week, and still aren’t washing their hands after they eat or after they use the facilities 100% of the time. Really, we’re still working on them FLUSHING the toilet 100% of the time! Ugh.
But, I do agree with keeping your word. I try hard to do it. Because, as you said, you want to be known as someone who keeps their word.
Rachel Norman says
I probably need to revisit my hygiene part because we have evolved over here. Ha
angel kelly says
I agree with all of them. I also agree with hygiene. I’m huge on that because of all the stuff that is going around lately. Wash before you eat, after you go to the bathroom, blow your nose or were somewhere with a bunch of kids. Manners are also huge. Keeping your word I am working on along with chores. I get too impatient. Ha
Rachel Norman says
Ha you and me both get impatient! So many things, so few hours in the day ;)
Love this! 100% on point. We have actually just started our five year old with his own chore chart. Seems to be going smoothly, so far. And being a southern girl, I’m HUGE on manners and etiquette. Even our 1.5 year old knows to say “thank you” and “please”. It’s a little thing that definitely goes a long way.
Rachel Norman says
Exactly, Sarah! Here if you don’t say ma’am, you’re not even neutral. You’re rude!
its seems good article that battle worth fighting. i agreed with all your points..
Fun for Kids
Stephanie Martinez says
This is a great article, I find myself breathing at times and reminding myself that it’s not worth a huge battle. I am happy to see some of my issues posted. Safety first, is golden rule. Chores and Nap are important and it is very beneficial to you as well busy moms. My two year olds takes off her clothes and puts them in the laundry shoot and dumps her cups in the sink she is eager to clean dishes oh and so am I haha :) They love the “big kid” treatment, I praise her. And keeping your word cause kids will know what to get away with and if mommy is not really going to do anything about it. Love it thanks!!
Rachel Norman says
Yes, keeping our word is so important, huh!
Hi Rachel, I´m quite impressed from your website and your life / work as a mother behind it! I totally agree with the “picking your fights” attitude, however, I really don´t like the word fight or battle when I talk about raising my child :o)
One thing, I am doing very different is making my child say something out of politeness. I´m a strong believer that good manners will, in fact, develop on their own, only through our good an consistent role modeling. That believe of mine is probably based on me being brought up that way (my parent have NEVER EVER asked me to say something just because it´s polite) and I can say, I´m a really polite person, saying thank you, please and I´m sorry a lot, lot, lot.
So my son (still an only child by now) is a little bit older than three years now and he hast started lately to say thank you, please and even I´m sorry by himself. Internally motivated he uses these phrases fairly often by now and I´m quite optimistic, that he´s gonna be a young man who knows, what´s polite and what´s expected, without pressuring him in these early years, when he can not really understand what this is all about. Uh, that got a little longer than I intended. Just my 5 cents about internal and external motivation to say polite things :o) Kind regards, Jitka
Rachel Norman says
Jitka, thanks so much for sharing and for your example. Each family is different and how precious your son is modeling you and that you are giving him a good example!