Choose Your Battles
As a teacher, it is tempting to constantly be on the lookout for ways to instruct, manage, and help students every minute of the school day; however, this is impossible to do. Children like to act funny, goofy, and silly. Some cut corners or make poor choices. If teachers were to put all of their energy into constantly redirecting such behavior, we'd be left with a nation of burnt out, ineffective educators. Teachers learn to choose their battles. So should parents.
Marion Pollack, a communications teacher at the Cabot School in Newton, Massachusetts, has applied this principle in all facets of her life. "I try to pick my battles in school and at home. When working with my students there are behaviors that are not acceptable and not respectful which deserve my immediate attention. As a mom, it took me a long time to learn to pick my battles. I used to agonize about the cleanliness of my girls' rooms. It would make me furious if they did not clean up, make their beds, and so on. This would lead to many unnecessary arguments. I finally just shut the door and told them that if they could not find something it was not my problem. This left more energy for so many other things that were truly more important than a clean room."
Decide what is most important to you and prioritize. This may require you to look the other way or ignore certain behaviors, and that's OK. If you invest all of your energy in constantly redirecting your child it will wear you down. Take a deep breath, take a step back to survey the situation, and then make a decision about how you're going to respond. Choosing your battles will give you the energy to focus on other things that are far more important.
A common thread found in all of these principles is to find a clear and structured approach. Children will be more invested if you involve them in the process of setting up these structures in your home. Many teachers tell parents that they work hard to be flexible and reflective. Every day may bring a new challenge or situation, and taking the time to slow down and analyze the best way to handle these situations is essential. Keeping some of these principles in mind as you approach each new day can help keep things running smoothly in your home!