How to Choose Your Battles with Your Kids

Learn why you should choose your battles and how to decide which ones to choose.

Cherylyn Feierabend
4-minute read
Episode #150

You hear the phrase, "Choose your battles," all the time--especially when working with children. It's great advice for just about any situation, but how do you know which battles are really worth fighting for?

Why Choosing your Battles Makes a Difference

When you are faced with a tantrum, a bout of whining, a rejection, or any kind of disrespectful behavior, you are forced to deal with it in that very moment. As adults, we want to be the stronger person. We want to show the child who is boss and force them to play by our rules. We also find ourselves taking the “I’m not going to let him get away with that” mentality. We are parents, role models, and sources of strength. We are also the judge and the jury a lot of the time. Being all of these things isn't easy, that’s our job.

There will be moments where the stress of a situation skyrockets out of control. That is when you have to decide if it’s really that important. I’m not suggesting that you become a pushover by any means, although I have been called that before by other parents. Though I’ve also had complete strangers compliment me on how well behaved my children are, all it takes is one bad moment to change someone’s perspective. I’m certainly not a perfect parent. I do my best. What else can be expected of any of us? And, for the record, I have scolded my children loudly and embarrassingly in public and walked out of a place shamed by their behavior. It happens. We have to move on.

How to Choose Your Battles with Your Kids

Try saying to your child: “I do not like your behavior right now. How do you think I should handle it?”

The first step in choosing your battles is knowing when and how to choose them. There are certain obvious situations where you should stand your ground. If your child is damaging property or hurting someone, clearly they should be removed from the situation and disciplined accordingly. Not all situations are as cut and dry, however. Two situations I ran into recently with my son regarding snacks and naps come to mind.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.