How often do you take the 'easy' option?(34 Posts)
Everyone's heard the phrase 'choose your battles'...I have a nearly 2 year old and I feel like I don't choose enough battles. He is fussy with food but I don't like to cause a fuss so I just give him what he'll eat and take away food when he doesn't. He doesn't like getting into the bath so I put Peppa Pig on the iPad to mesmerise him long enough to undress him and get him in. He's difficult to change his nappy, again Peppa helps me out. In fact Peppa Pig helps me out a LOT at the moment. Or the dummy. If he's 'planking' getting into the buggy, I shove the dummy in and that usually sorts it. He's not unusually difficult or anything, I just prefer to take the easy option than 'discipline' too much. At his age should I be though?
DD is 2.5 but I wouldn't say my approach has changed since she was your DS' age. I pick my battles in that I focus on the behaviours I really care about.
So, for example, I really don't care if she wants to go out on a blazing hot day wearing her welly boots and winter coat - she'll strip off when she gets hot. I really don't care if she wants to sit on my lap when she's eating - I enjoy the closeness and know that she'll grow out of it.
I really do care about the things that affect other people - so absolutely no snatching, hitting, etc.
From your examples, well, it's really up to you to decide how you feel about these things. I think that, with toddlers, you need to decide on a rule and then be very empathetic but firm about it. Personally - I wouldn't be fussed about the food as long as he gets a healthy diet, I don't use TV at all but if I did, I wouldn't be so worried about the nappy one because he'll be out of nappies eventually but I'd try to find other ways to get him into the bath because he'll always need to wash, and I'd probably be aiming to become a lot less reliant on a dummy at that age. BUT those are just my views and if yours are different that's absolutely okay!
I would keep offering a variety of food alongside stuff you know he will eat, because ime fussy eaters become narrower in their choices if you don't.
All the rest of it - I do the same. I try to keep the dummy to bedtimes now as much as possible (youngest is 2.5).
I decide based on the unpleasantness of whatever it is DS doesn't want to do, and on his reaction if I have to force him to do it. So we have Peppa pig for teeth brushing because I just couldn't face the tears, screaming, distress every morning and skipping it wasn't an option. I also understand that it is not pleasant to have a toothbrush forced into your mouth.
I don't use the tv or tablet for anything else though. I don't tolerate fussing during nappy changes because they're not unpleasant, he needs to learn that they happen a few times a day and only take a minute. You could probably manage to get him ready for his bath without the ipad, but I don't think it's going to be a problem in the future tbh. He might not always hate having a bath, he'll become easier to reason with as he gets older etc. I'd try and avoid getting out the ipad too much in the future though because it is hard to go back on it.
Ds is a fairly fussy eater too but there's not much you can do about that apart from offering foods he won't have regularly and hoping he'll taste them sooner or later. Yes, most of them will go untouched, but at least you've tried. Stressing about food is the worst you can do imho.
I often feel I can't be arsed to say no or fight a battle once again, but I remind myself that if you give in a couple of times, making rules just gets harder and harder. There aren't many things where you have to be strict 100% of the time though - brushing teeth, no hitting, no snatching etc. are some of them. I don't think the examples you have mentioned are particularly important, it sounds like you are doing fine.
I've always taken this approach. I see some of my friends with kids fighting with them over really inconsequential stuff, and it just seems so much like hard work. Same as PPs, I pick the really important battles and let the rest slide - so for example, teeth brushing is and always has been non-negotiable, regardless of how much we have to fight for it. I agree that you really do have to stick to the firm rules - if you let it slide once, they smell weakness and will push it every single time after that!
I'm also finding that as DD gets older, we're adjusting things slightly - eg at mealtimes she's always been given some things she will eat and some she won't; I've never made a fuss about her eating everything and she still doesn't have to, but now she's nearly 4 I usually get her to try a mouthful or two of whatever it is she doesn't want (especially if I know she'll like it once she tries it!).
Maybe we've just been lucky - I only have DD so I'm very aware we might have just gotten off lightly with her! - but I do feel like I've had a pretty easy ride compared to some of my friends, because I haven't expended all my energy on pointless battles. And DD is generally well behaved and reasonable, so it seems to have been OK as an approach!
My DD is 23 months in a few days....I think many parent with DCs of a similar age would be in a similar predicament.
My DD is a fussy eater (as is her daddy) so I tend to keep trying her on new foods but do fall back on her 'favourites' as I know she is trying lots of different foods at nursery too.
I also tend to pick my battles too - although I do try not to back down if I can help it, as I don't want her to think that she will always get her own way if she has a paddy. I have occasionally bribed her with a treat, especially if she is showing me up in public.....tantrums are much easier to ride out at home.
I don't think there is a right or wrong way to do things.....just whatever you are most comfortable with!
Why do you think what you do is the easy option?
What disciplining do you think you should be doing?
You can hardly reason with a very young child. If you can make them happy enough to do what you want them to do, you're doing a great job.
A screaming child that has to do what she's told or is punished is much less desirable.
Just keep offering the different foods, but don't sweat it.
Lweji to be honest it stems from a brunch with friends last week. One of them had to bring her 13 month old with her who was starting to get bored and distracted and I offered some games/CBeebies stuff from my phone for her. She was a bit horrified at my suggestion! Apparently her DD has never even watched TV. I was a bit and wondered if I use things like that too much to pacify DS.
Now you have explained the root of your op it makes more sense!!
Not allowing tv to a child is no guarantee of anything much - unless a poster can direct me to a journal paper stating otherwise. It's just a personal parenting choice.
Op I can't see the issue with any of yore methods. He is a challenging age and will grow out of all those behaviours.
Fwiw dd1 went through at phase at 2 of refusing to eat anything g except those gopping purée pouches. It went on 7 weeks! She's 6 now and sitting her troughing banana and raspberries after 4 hours of dance lessons so she's clearly fine!!
I only got ds to sit on the potty long enough for a poo by putting him in front of the computer on the coffee table.
And at a certain age he would only go to sleep for a nap in front of the TV.
But whether you use your phone or colouring books, whatever works should be fine.
Life is hard enough already. And kids too.
All the time.
Why take the harder option? Life is hard enough.
Do whatever works. The tantrums and two year old crap lasts such a short space of time, you just get through it the least painful way.
Wait a few more months and ask your friend again about her DC's TV habit... There's a big difference between a 1 and 2yo. At 13mo my DD watched next to no telly, now at 25mo she watches Milkshake in the morning (with us in bed so we can get a bit more sleep!), sometimes a bit whilst I cook or prepare meals, and a bit before bed/late afternoon if she's getting a bit tired and tetchy.
I am definitely a 'pick your battles' parent. As mentioned by others, some things are non-negotiable (teeth, hitting), some I actively ignore (fussiness with food, I just say ok and clear it away), others depend on my/her mood, where we are etc. I don't make threats I won't carry out though, if I say we'll be going eg for 'quiet time' if the behaviour doesn't stop, I will do it, although having recently been heavily pregnant and now 2wks PP and recovering from a section I am less likely to issue the threats as I CBA to have to get up and enforce them. You'll go crazy if you are on top of them for everything. As for going with the easy option to make them comply, I have no qualms with that if it's not a daily routine thing. So I'm happy to promise a snack or trip to the swings to get her into the buggy (a once or twice a week thing and a bribe isn't always necessary) or keep her quiet in the GP's waiting room but wouldn't offer a bribe for eg teeth brushing which I could see starting as a need to occasionally use but would become a daily necessity.
I don't think there's any right or wrong here: it's whatever works for you.
We didn't even own a telly when dc were little: we still got through. Otoh friends who did use screen time as pacifiers have also got through. Can't really look at the young adults and tell which is which.
Again I would probably just have changed the nappy or put dc in the bath without further ado- but that's just because it suited me and I knew I could do it without losing my temper. Doesn't mean everybody else is wrong.
Each to their own and nobody is right or wrong (even the experts!!!) Personally, i have 2.5yr old and like most moms, i pick my battles. This is especially true after a full day working in a battle field that is my office, i do not want to come home to another battle field. I just.don't.have.it.in.me.
So my kid loves the ipad and watches it at dinner time. So what? It gets him eating and i think the trade off is fine. Sometimes he wants dinner whilst he is in the bath, again we let that happen because at least hes eating and it's not doing any harm is it really?
But i do stand firm in situations in terms of his manners and public behaviour. Whenever we're out grocery shopping and he wants to suddenly throw a tantrum, i do not give in and pass him his ipad/sweets/lollies etc. I very firmly take him out and he knows for next time what is expected of him.
GET IN THE FUCKN BATH NOW! Usually works for me
Joking obviously but yes I think the majority of us take the easy option unless it's life threatening things like you must hold my hand when crossing the road and don't stick your head in the oven!
I agree with come's final paragraph and wanted to add this:
I do also see the "strict" option as the long term easy option. Not to be strict about things like behaviour in supermarkets means next time they are worse, and the next time etc. Being strict and enforcing rules the first few times often means an easier life down the road.
With my first, they didn't watch tv until they were 2. So I didn't use that to pacify.
But I would distract with say a snack if it was near snack time (which was the usual reason for a tantrum. Either that or tired). But we didn't get many tantrums.
I wouldn't encourage bad habits like watching tv while eating. if they don't eat then they'll get hungry later and I'd give them bedtime milk with a little snack.
Things like throwing a tantrum over something, it happened so rarely because we tried to anticipate behaviour and it usually worked. As they got older I got more strict.
Now mine are 6&4, they know that when I've said something I don't change my mind unless I've got it wrong then I will. (Eg I've misunderstood something).
Things like meals - I still give them foods which are new and may result in a strop but I ignore the strip and remind them how to behave and usually it is over within a minute if that.
I agree with everything lweji said. We used peppa pig on the iPad a lot for distraction when dd was the same ages as your DS. Dd is now 4 and rarely do I need to use the iPad for distraction in the same way. She is now old enough to talk about things like having a bath etc.
I firmly believe in picking battles. How you do so will vary as time goes on. We have always encouraged dd to make choices. So if it's cold and she doesn't want to wear her coat, I take it with me and let her realise for herself it's cold. I'm not going to spend ages battling with her to make her wear it.
None of your easy options seem like a bad idea to me. When out for food my dd takes books, stickers and yes her iPad. But she's nice and quiet, doesn't disturb other diners and she puts them away when her food arrives. a lot of these things will pass as your DS gets older.
I'm coming out of the other end of this as the DC are 6 & 4. DC1 was always fairly easy to discipline as she is a people pleaser. DC2 was an utterly different kettle of fish as he is much more stubborn & selfish. I, too, worried about picking too few battles but I think I got it about right. He is now a lovely little lad who is very well behaved (shares well, listens etc).
The ones where I should have been firmer - and am having to play catch up now - are on the thumb sucking (as he has pushed his teeth out and it's impacting on his speech) & behaviour at the dinner table. I was so concerned about getting any calories into him, that I let everything else slide & he still prefers to sit on my knee or stand by his chair to eat. We are also cracking down on DD's table manners as, when DS wasn't sat at the table or eating, it seemed ridiculous (a and I'm not sure I even noticed) to worry that she ate with her mouth open and it also seemed hypocritical to pull her up on it when she was sat down & eating well.
As others have said, the friends with a 13mo may well change their mind in a few months time!
I hope this doesn't sound judgemental, I just wanted to give the other side. I didn't take the easy option very often, the only exception being using Mr Tumble for my 1 year old when I needed to breastfeed the baby.
I feel that all the 'taking the hard option' when they were little has made life so much easier now. One is more 'spirited' than the other so it was very hard and exhausting at the time but its been so worth it.
For example, I had them in time out in the corner of asda and was dying inside at the looks I got from other shoppers but I soon had two children who would happily totter along with me in shops.
Having a tablet with Peppa Pig on to eat seems fine at 2 if the parent is happy to, though devices aren't allowed at our table whether you're 2 or 42! I was recently in a restaurant and at the next table was a teenage lad who didn't speak to the others, only sat watching his tablet. It looked like such bad manners and yet I see it fairly often.
(yes., totally aware he may have SN and may need tablet, just commenting on how it appears to outsiders).
With most things I have a 'start as you mean to go on' attitude and for the most part the hard work pays off.
I think a lot depends on the child and neither method is wrong. We are fairly soft parents, but still have discipline. And so far it works with our dd. I had a stressful job and didn't see much of dd. I was sure I didn't want to spend those times battling with her. So we took a softer approach, encouraged her to make choices, and choose our battles. We have a polite well behaved child and a calm happy home. But I know from times with friends that our approach wouldn't have worked with other children.
Op do what works for you and your DS
To come back to this thread. I think one thing that is useful is:
take the easy option often enough so that life doesn't become one eternal miserable battle-ground
if this is well done it can also model problem-solving and a generally positive attitude
take the hard option often enough so they learn that being made to do what they have to doesn't mean something horrible has happened
a child who has always been jollied along and cajoled at every single moment of their life may be difficult to take anywhere where safety or order depends on quick obedience. And that may be a child who ends up with a more limited experience than is strictly necessary: possibly a child who will struggle with starting school or doing organised sports/swimming/ballet.
You don't have to start as you mean to go on in every single area of life- neither of my teenagers eats with their fingers or comes into my bed at night. But you do need to be aware that the outside world, in the shape of playdates and school and football lessons- will creep up on them very soon and to a completely sheltered child it can seem a scary place, when you want it to be a fun place for them.
I think my parenting is quite different with DS2 than DS1, partly through realising they just grow out of a lot of stuff and it's not worth stressing about it.
So with DS1 I tried to teach hm everything, and made his and my life a bit more stressful than it needed to be. Often I would battle with a certain behaviour and then it would just sort itself out.
That means DS2 is quite 'free range', for example he can't really be bothered with food, so for now (age 2 and 4 months), as long as he comes and sits at the table for a few minutes I content myself with shoving food in his mouth every time he runs past. I'd would never have done that with DS1 and would be been judgey pants with anyone I saw doing that.
Well, how things change!
I think my philosophy is also very much one of picking my battles, which surprised me at first, as I had always imagined I would be strict.
DS (2.5) has breakfast at 'his' coffee table because he is happier that way. Other meals he has to at least sit at the table properly with whoever else is around. For this reason I still have straps on the high chair, and if he is playing up I strap him in and ignore him. It takes no time at all for him to get over it, then he eats normally, we chat etc.
If we have to do something, I try to explain why. Teeth are non negotiable. Like pp, I can absolutely understand that having a brush forced into your mouth is horrible, but on the days that 'ooh, a bit of broccoli' isn't working, that's just tough.
I have a zero tolerance position on violence.
With things that don't matter, as advised by MN, I try and give him a choice. As long as he is wearing appropriate clothes and shoes, I don't really care which ones they are. If he wants to play with stupid amounts of toys at once, he can but he must then tidy up with me.
If he won't go in the pushchair, he has to run to keep up if we are in a hurry.
If he is being unusually clingy at bedtime, I stay with him til he falls asleep. Invariably he gets in with me at some point during the night anyway. It is pretty uncomfortable sleeping with a very active windmill toddler, but he won't be doing it for ever, and I like to think that it shows he still needs me sometimes, even if during the day it is all 'I do it myself'
When we are travelling long distance, I am prepared to let a lot more go than usual, so constant snacks, iPad, bribery, dummy during the day and so on, the priority being arriving in one piece without having caused upset to other travellers.
everything in moderation!
If the child is doing everything they need to, brushing teeth, eating enough ( even if unbalanced), getting into the buggy etc, then why care what other 'tools' they will need to do it? The important message is clear to the child, you MUST brush your teeth/go in the bath, and for a 2 year old, these things they may much rather not do.
I see parents 'let their child off' brushing their teeth, or having endless discussions about it, or insisting on 10 stories at bedtime - now that isn't teaching a child well. But a bit of peppy pig whilst they do it? Perfectly fine in my book!
Food - children naturally get quite fussy this age - so again I think that the 'low fuss' but 'persistent and subtle encouragement' works well. A head on battle will make mealtimes and food 'an issue'. Keep offering small tiny bites of new things. Ask them to eat a 'litt'e more' of the good stuff before they get something sweet or preferable.
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