Parenting Advice: When to win, when to surrender

Taken from the Huffington Post:

Childhood Battles

Early in your children’s lives, you may enter these battles of will unwittingly. Children can be stubborn and very loudly and irritatingly fight against you. It’s often easier to just surrender and allow them to win. Out in public, they will try to win by embarrassing you in the eyes of others. For example, when you and your children are in the supermarket checkout line and they want a candy bar that is conspicuously displayed. You say no several times, but they start screaming. Just to quiet them down as others look on disapprovingly, you give in and buy them the candy bar. Though losing these battles of will may be easiest for you, it isn’t best for your children. If they learn that they can get what they want by nagging you, they’ll learn a painful lesson when they grow up because adult life doesn’t work that way. Instead, by handling these battles of will well, your children will learn essential lessons about self-control, delayed gratification and consideration of others that will serve them well in adulthood.

You have the power to avoid or control the battles of will with your children. Battles of will require two participants. If you don’t join the fray, battles can’t be fought. Remain steadfast when these situations arise. Clearly communicate that your children won’t get what they want no matter what they do, and especially if they continue to act badly. If you’re in a public place, remember that every parent faces these challenges, and when you stand your ground, those watching will actually envy and admire your resolve.

You can also avoid these battles by letting your children have what they want. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten caught in a battle of wills with my children and then, after a “bloody” battle, I realize that it was not a battle worth fighting. My advice is to pick your battles. If you think some situation is important (i.e., a learning opportunity, an essential life lesson), then stand your ground. But if think that the situation just isn’t a life changer, then let your children have that little victory.

Teenage Battles

A normal and healthy part of your children’s adolescence is separating from you. Battles of will are a way in which teenagers stake out newly claimed territory and assert their independence. If you attempt to win these battles outright, you will stifle your children’s journey to adulthood and they may take drastic measures to claim their independence. If you lose all of the battles without putting up any fight, your children gain too much territory too early, and they’re left to battle the world alone without the capabilities to emerge from that battle unscathed.

As your children enter adolescence, they are driven by no more powerful force than being accepted by their peers. The two-pronged impact of separating from you and being accepted by their peers can drive a wedge between you and your children. And peer pressure’s influence on both of these forces encourages your children to instigate and attempt to win battles of will with you.

Your children are looking for a fight as they enter their teenage years. And you’re more vulnerable to being pulled into these battles of will. Your children want to separate from you, but, like most parents, a part of you wants your children to stay young and dependent on you forever. You may fear for their safety as they move out into the world on their own. You may be reluctant to give up the control of their lives that you’ve held for so many years. You may question whether they’re ready to go it alone. You may mourn their impending separation from you.”

Read the rest here.
Do you agree, or disagree?

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