Six things to stop fighting about with your kids — now!
Ever walk into a room to approach your spouse with something that you know will set him off, some subject that you have fought about before, and you know full well will fan the flames again the minute you bring it up? As with any relationship, the obvious thought is to change how you operate, because it’s pointless to keep having the same fight over and over again. A good therapist will advise couples on this. Did you ever consider that the same goes for your kids?
Just because our children are in our care and are not yet adults does not mean that they don’t deserve the same respect that your partner does, or that fighting with them will cause any good to come out of the situation. We all have subjects that need revisiting where our kids are concerned, and there are useful ways to stomp out the frustration.
Here are six things to stop fighting about right now:
Of course, you want your kids to consume a healthy diet packed with vitamins, designed to give them energy and a strong immune system … and then you realize that sweet-natured baby is an intensely stubborn picky eater! Some kids only have picky phases, while others remain selective throughout childhood.
Food is one of the few things young children have control over, and you simply can’t force anyone to eat something she just does not want. However, you can fill your kitchen with only healthy foods, circumventing the fight and the constant struggle. Then you can rest assured knowing that whatever your child chooses will have some nutritional value.
Kids need sleep. Without sufficient amounts, they will slack in every area and feel generally terrible and cranky (just like us!). Sleep should be non-negotiable. From the time a baby begins to sleep on his own, bedtime should be as consistent as possible. As he grows, he will know that you don’t play around with bedtime. However, if your child suddenly just cannot seem to sleep, it merits a physical exam. Many issues — from anxiety to thyroid disorder — can impact sleep, no matter how hard the child tries.
Like sleep, homework is a priority. Teaching children from pre-K that school is their job helps them understand this, and that it is their responsibility. Fighting over it is counterproductive. Let them know you are always there to help, but it is up to them to get it done. The majority of kids who learn this lesson as preschoolers grow into teens that follow through.
Whether you consider chores part of a functioning family or you pay your kids for helping out, doing chores is not up for debate. Take a lesson from teachers. They don’t fight with their students. If the student doesn’t do what is expected, there is a penalty: a bad grade or detention. Create consequences and follow through every single time, but don’t argue.
School is hard, and much more difficult than when we were kids. The pressure to keep up with academics, activities and clubs, social pressures, and the basics of sleeping and eating well can be overwhelming for any kid. And it only increases as children go to middle and high schools. Some kids handle it well, but many don’t.
If your child tells you he doesn’t want to participate in an activity, take his concerns seriously. Maybe he just doesn’t like the activity, maybe he prefers painting to sports, or vice versa. Have an honest conversation with no pressure, and together figure out his needs.
Yes, your child might have different taste than you in music, movies, television, and clothing. Kids need freedom to figure out who they are, not become your carbon copy. Everyone has the right to be themselves, so, as long as what your child wants to do or wear is not inappropriate, let it go.
With all the news and politics at the forefront of daily life, we each have our own beliefs, and our kids are no different. Let them be free to support whatever beliefs and causes they feel are important. Don’t put your own agenda onto them. Instead, feel proud that you are raising a kid who feels comfortable and close enough to you to openly disagree and choose her own path.
There is always a balance that needs to be achieved between getting our kids to do things they might not want while teaching them life lessons. Fighting and arguing never helps, so keep calm, knowing that doing so teaches kids by example. You’re modeling how to lead a calm and productive life.
Danielle Sullivan is a writer living in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @Deewrite.
Updated 5:05 pm, July 9, 2018