How do you 'pick your battles?'
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|Tue, 01-10-2006 - 1:04pm|
Good morning Ladies!
I have a problem that I need some opinions and ideas on. It concerns my four year old daughter and I did post this on the Four Year Old board, but it is kind of a slow board and I was hoping for more opinions. So I hope you don't mind my copying it on to this board as well.
I have a question that I am not even sure I can ask coherently... :)
How do you 'pick your battles' when you don't even see them coming?
My four year old daughter is intrinsically stubborn. She has been from day one. And there is a part of me that really admires her strength of spirit. My gut feeling is that I should try to avoid butting heads with her, if I can do so. I think we may be on the road to a tough adolescence if I cannot establish a way to deal with her stubborness without getting irritated.
I know all about the concept of 'picking your battles!' The problem is that I often don't see the battles coming. They are more like sneak attacks then battles. For example, this morning my husband and son went downstairs to start breakfast, while I combed my daughter's hair for preschool. I was already a little irritated with her because first she said she wanted clips in her hair, so I put them in. Then she didn't like them so she took them out. I was irritated because we were already a little late to begin with - I didn't care what her hair looked like, but I didn't appreciate having my time wasted. Although I didn't really say anything to her about her clips, my daughter is very sensitive and I know she knew that I was feeling crabby about her decision.
I said, "Let's go downstairs for breakfast." And my daughter balked at the top of the stairs and said, whining, "I want Daddy." I said, "No problem - Daddy is downstairs eating his breakfast - let's go join him." Nothing doing - she wanted Daddy to come back upstairs and carry her downstairs! I said, "No Honey. We don't have time for that. Either I can carry you downstairs or you can walk yourself. We are not calling Daddy back up here when he is already downstairs." I really did not think this was a big deal.
So then, my daughter starts to cry - throwing what I would call a mini tantrum. So I told her, "Well, I guess I will see you when you are ready to come downstairs." And I walked downstairs, leaving her crying at the top of the stairs. My husband asked me what was wrong and I told him. I said, "Do NOT go and get her!" He didn't. :) She did eventually come down, but it took a long time. She nearly missed breakfast. And there was no way that I was going to send Daddy back up the stairs when she was up there screaming about it.
But seriously. If I had known HOW important it was to her to have Dad go and get her, I might have handled it a little differently from the outset. But once she starts crying to get her way, I don't feel like I can in good conscience give in.
I am not sure what to make of this. My son had the occassional tantrum, but I could always see those coming. My daughter surprises me. She is very smart and very sweet and VERY STUBBORN. I don't know about smart and sweet, but I also tend to be VERY STUBBORN. :) And I have never been a parent to coddle tantrums. So I am not sure how to handle this. What has your experience been with the stubborn ones? Do they eventually give up? Ha! I am afraid that she will slowly build a resentment against me and I don't want this to happen. My son and I have a very good parent-child relationship and I am not worried about what the future will bring for us. I think we will always be able to talk about things. I am not so sure with my daughter. I don't want to shut her down as she starts school. She will need her mother to talk things over with! But I can't just give in to these attacks of stubborness either... Is there a middle ground? How do I find it?