Forfeiting Battles to Win the War
There are some hard and fast rules that I have absolutely no problem enforcing. The kids have to wear their seat belts in the car. Totally non-negotiable. They have to go to school. Everything else, honestly, not so clear or committed to fighting about.
With regard to food, I confess my husband and I have frankly caved to our kids' demands. They mostly eat turkey burgers, hot dogs, potato chips, chicken nuggets, and mac 'n' cheese. They do eat a few different kinds of fruit. Roasted seaweed totally counts as a vegetable at our house.
My kids whine so much about so many things, I go out of my way to avoid provoking them. I buy seedless watermelons, then pick out the white seed-like things that are still inside. I have even (gasp!) peeled grapes.
I'd like my kids to eat vegetables and to try new foods, but they're really picky and stubborn. We tried the, "If you won't eat what we offer, you can eat cereal," and Kaylee was happier eating cereal than anything else we gave her. #wefailatdinner
The other epic parenting fail we do is letting them watch videos three times per day. They watch a video while we're unloading the dishwasher and preparing breakfast, after lunch, and while we're making dinner. Zach also plays video games on the weekends. It's probably frying their brains, but it's only DVDs and Netflix so at least they're not watching commercials. Sometimes they even learn things.
It really is true that you have to pick your battles with kids. It's exhausting arguing with them over everything. If you say "no" to too many things, they feel frustrated and oppressed, but if you say "yes" to everything they have no boundaries or limits. So, it's a fine line between letting them try things and make mistakes and telling (then somehow enforcing) them not to do something. Even if they're too young to understand, I try to explain why I don't want them to do it. Usually it's because they're about to break something or they're very likely to get hurt.
It's especially scary letting Kaylee feel like she's "won" too many times. She really lives for that. Sometimes I'll ask her to do something, like put on a sweatshirt, and she'll refuse. I'll recommend it again, but if she won't wear it, I just let her be cold. It's not worth the wrestling match to get her into the sweatshirt when she'll just take it off 10 seconds later.
My kids are very different in how we can discipline them. Zach actually cares whether we feel disappointed in him or hurt by his behavior. He wants our approval. Kaylee couldn't care less. The only thing that motivates her to cooperate when she's being stubborn is threatening to take away her dress-up clothes. I'm hoping this is because she's three-and-a-half years old, but it's just as likely that she's just naturally stubborn.
For all the times we give in, I think we're still doing an okay job. The kids get along with other children, they behave well at school, and they are generally active, happy, and healthy. I hope somehow by showing them that I pick my battles it might encourage them to pick theirs too. Because I let them try a lot of things, when I say, "No" I usually really mean it.
In the end, I'm doing what I can to let them know that I care about them, and that I want them to be responsible, self-reliant, and compassionate people. Not that it would kill them to eat a piece of broccoli once in awhile.
Do you have a hard time picking your battles with your kids
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