How to Pick Your Battles



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The answer to this question may be more obvious than you might imagine as long as you understand how to prioritize your child’s behaviour and then prioritize your time.

Step 1 – Make a list of your child’s most notable behaviours following a simple outline from most to least dangerous:

  1. Dangerous behaviour in which a person could get really hurt – running in the street, hitting or biting others. 
  2. Dangerous behaviour in which things could get broken – throwing toys or household objects where something is going to be broken;
  3. Socially dangerous behaviour in which others will not want to be around your child – angry, argumentative language or actions;
  4. Personally dangerous behaviour in which your child is not learning how to take care of themselves – not following reasonable directions from his or her parents which prevents a child from learning the skills of daily life;
  5. Annoying behaviour that can be a nuisance – repetitive, clingy or whiny behaviors.

Step 2. Go back to your paper and pencil and consider your child’s trouble behaviours in terms of:

  • How often and when do these behaviours occur – 15 minutes in the morning or for two hours after school?
  • How much control over your own time do you have, while these behaviours are going on – are you trying to get breakfast made for everyone, while you have to get yourself dressed and out?
  • Can you cause these behaviours to occur at a time when you have nothing else to worry about except supervising your child’s behaviour – you pick the time (when you can closely supervise and teach) for when your two children will have access to a game that they are likely to argue over?

You will find that thinking about time management will be the key to zeroing in on a few selected behaviours to work on with your kids.

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