How to Pick Your Battles

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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