CHOOSING BATTLES WISELY IN OUR LARGE FAMILY
is part of the Write 31 2017 Challenge.
Read 31 Days of Life in a Large Homeschooling Family for more posts.
* * * * * * * * *
Eat your vegetables!
Brush your teeth!
Go to bed!
Pack your room!
I believe these are common instructions we all issue on a regular basis to our children. But how often do they heed our call?
And what happens when they don’t? Do you follow up with whatever consequences you have decided on?
Choosing battles wisely
Because I do not want to be issuing an instruction which is ignored, which I have to discipline for, I have learnt to choose my battles wisely.
I know it is now very popular to spend time explaining to little children WHY they need to do something. And there are lots of courses out there teaching parents key phrases to use in order to get the children to obey.
Old school parenting
I am old school. And I have 7 children.
Imagine explaining to more than 2 children daily to get them to obey me. Wow! I would be a total wreck at the end of the day, IF I even make it through the day.
Standing my ground
Instead, I pick my battles wisely and then I stand my ground.
After years of parenting a myriad of personalities, I have realised that many issues are not worth dying for. But for those that are, like things pertaining to their safety or health, I will not budge. For example, eating their vegetables (after they turn 3*).
*Let me tell you something strange about many children. They almost all start out ok with vegetables. Then sometime between 2 to 3 years old (plus or minus a few months), they will suddenly refuse all vegetables. Don’t fight them. Keep offering, even hide them if you must, but don’t fight them. After they turn 3, start re-offering and you can slowly insist that they finish up the 3 peas or stalks of chye sim. But not before that. You will lose. I have no idea why they do that but they do.
Offer limited choices
Sure, as the children grow a little older, I will offer choices. After all we do want them to learn to be able to make wise decisions. But in the beginning, the choices offered will be my choices. Eg. Do you want to pack your table now or later? Would you like to brush your teeth after dinner or just before you go to sleep? Too many choices overwhelm them and that is part of the reason they act up and make silly decisions.
Widen their choices
But when they get to the teen years, open up the choices available and respect their decision. But let me warn you first – it is hard! You will have to bite your tongue A LOT. So for instance a child is tasked to wash the main dishes after each meal. I like to have the dishes washed immediately after each meal. But this child likes to leave it as late as possible. I bite my tongue. I focus on the fact that the chore IS done. I pick my battles wisely!
No budging on disobedience
Recently, some random child* asked me the basis on which we wielded the cane. I answered with no hesitation, “Obedience”.
Both Henson and I agreed from the start that disobedience must be dealt with immediately. And the most effective way is through a single firm swat on the bottom. Yes, we do use the cane. And so, we will discipline with the cane on issues of disobedience.
This meant that it was even more critical that we pick our battles wisely. Or we will end up in prison for child abuse! Caning for everything under the sun is pointless and unfruitful. It only serves to cause estrangement between parent and child.
*The same child asked if one could be caned for being irritating! Lol! No, child. Although it is really tempting at times!
So I have learnt, through parenting 7 children with very different personalities, that it is critical that we do not major on the minors. But on the majors, to hold our ground.
What are the battles YOU have chosen to fight your child on? And why?