How To Pick Your Battles To Stop the War

MommaFinds Taking Back the Power

Quote of the Week
“Gotta Pick My Battles.”
~ My 3 Year Old

My Daughter Is Confused

The other night, I tucked my daughter into bed after I asked her three times if she was hungry and said, after I brush your teeth there is no food. She said she wasn’t hungry and “okay” to the no food after I brush your teeth.

So, I tuck her in. And give her snuggles (it’s a thing she invented to stall). And make sure she has ALL her stuffies. And two cups of water. and. and. and.

I walk I out of the room.

2 minutes later.


No food. We brushed your teeth.

But, I’m HUNGRY!

Good night.

Just try your best momma and do what I say!

I close the door, hold in all the giggles as I try not to laugh my face off. Pull it together. Then continue the battle.

My daughter is confused, because she thinks I’m supposed to do what she says. We’ve clearly been giving her too much leeway.

Non Negotiable

In going through multiple nannies I learned a couple very clear patterns. The over arching theme being, there is a time for options and there’s a time for demands.

As an example when I switched nannies I didn’t put together a cut and dry schedule. I gave them a rough - here’s when they eat and here’s when they sleep. Fill in the blanks. And what ended up happening is the nannies ended up asking them what they wanted to do, what they wanted eat, etc.

Do you want to go outside? No.

Do you want to go potty? No. (5 minutes later, accident)

Are you ready for naps? No.

When I ended up going through backup care, having a different nanny almost everyday, I set forth a schedule. When they eat, when they go potty, when they have a snack, when they go outside, when they nap. No questions. This happens at this time everyday. And from the kids, no arguments. Even with our new full time nanny this has stuck really well. No questions. This, then this, then this. There’s been less accidents. Because they’re playing outside, they’re more tired and the house is not a mess.

According to, the best way a child feels secure is when their life is predictable. Our pediatrician, had similar words of advice about forecasting and familiarity.

Non negotiable.

This or This

Giving kids options is a great way to help them feel like they have control. Which in tern reduces battles. Because they’ve made decisions. You’ve said no less. When you say it’s time for bed, there’s less push back. They know it’s time and it’s not up for discussion.

Give options.

With boundaries!

This doesn’t mean to start introducing open ended questions.

If I ask my daughter what she’d like to wear today, she will pick her batgirl pjs every time. If I ask my daughter where she’d like to go today, she’d say no where that she wants to stay home because it’s familiar, safe, and a place she can just be herself with out monitoring her behavior. But then we’d never leave the house.

Two Options.

It’s gotten to the point, where my son will ask me, “What are my options?” Because if I need the kids to do something they’re giving me push back, I’ll say you have “Two Options”. And sometimes it’s not really an option. “You can go potty now, before we leave. Or we can just stay home and not go to your friend’s house.” < not really an option. The kid’s going to go potty.

The non negotiables are easier when you give your kids some power throughout the day. Easy decisions. This or that. These PJs or these (they are exactly the same except one has strawberries and the other has watermelon).

Positive Parenting Solutions talks about this in another way. Amy talks about controlling the child’s environment so that they make decisions within non verbal boundaries essentially. So now if I ask my daughter to get dressed, I’ve hidden her PJs so it’s not an option.

Find Your Happy Medium

I’ve gotten tired and I’ve given over too much power and bedtime has become an endless battle. My daughter is confused. She thinks she has all the power and that’s my fault because I’ve giving her too many open ended questions. What do you want to do today? What do you want for dinner? What do you want to wear?

And a lot of these questions lead to answers that I have to say “no” to.

I’ve been saying “no” too often which has lead to frustration everywhere.

I’m scaling back. No questions around the non-negotiables (aka, the schedule).

Then going back to my “Two Options” approach for easy decisions on their part.

This is where I’ve found my happy medium.

What’s yours?

As always, you do you.

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