Correcting Children/Picking Your Battles – An Expanded Common Sense Tip

There are many things that need to happen every day to help home life run smoothly. Everyone in a family has places to go, tasks to do and/or contributions to make to keep things in some kind of order.

For a host of reasons including personality and age some children need to be reminded to “keep up with the flow ” more than others. Sometimes the reluctantly organized, overactive, distracted or slow moving child can end up listening to a running commentary of things that they are not doing well. Unfortunately a barrage of “nos” or “hurry ups” sometimes ends up backfiring as children become overwhelmed and unresponsive to the upset around them.

Helping a seemingly recalcitrant child respond to legitimate requests often requires a fair amount of parental patience and care. To be effective moms and dads often need to pick their battles and choose one specific and achievable goal to complete at a time. For example asking a child to “behave better” is too general a request and not easily accomplished but “getting to bed by 9 pm” can be a more straightforward objective.

Paying attention to a single task can help understandably frustrated parents concentrate their efforts, organize their communication, and be more hopeful about seeing progress even though it can be very difficult to postpone addressing every concern when it occurs. If parents can stay focussed on one thing at a time (temporarily letting other things go) and stay calm, clear and determined as they help their child success is possible. When the goal is achieved adults and children often are proud of their accomplishment and more willing to tackle other challenges.

Some parents have found it helpful to have a relaxed and clear conversation with their child about the task in mind before beginning. Having the talk at a time of day that is separate from “the moment of difficulty” can help keep the chat relatively relaxed and productive. Asking young ones for input during the discussion can help them be more connected and involved in the project, ultimately increasing chances for success. Even if the idea is met with complete resistance talking can help a child be aware that a concentrated effort is about to begin,

There are some circumstances when rewarding children for their efforts can also help. When this is true it is important to make the reward obtainable. (Failing to achieve a reward can be very discouraging and limit subsequent cooperation). Parents often ask children to change their behavior for a week before giving a reward. For young children or when tackling a difficult challenge a week can be a long time to keep going. Offering little rewards more frequently can build confidence for everyone.

If a goal is well chosen ultimately achieving the goal is its own reward. For example once a child gets used to going to bed on time they are less tired, bedtimes are more enjoyable and everyone is happier to have a more rested young one.

Try picking your battles when correcting children and smoothing out family routines, it often helps.