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I really don't know. My kids have pulled that bologna with me too. To be honest, what I would have done is pretend I'm leaving anyway (very mean) or start to threaten that they lose something they like. Certainly my way is not the best way, its most probably not even a good way. It mostly showcases how I like to enter pissing constests with children to prove I am the most stubborn. Clearly mother-of-the-year material.

I like your reasons for what you did. It makes perfect sense to me. Very mature.

I would have done one of two things, depending upon my mood and how rude he was really being. 1. "Bye Bye -- Mama's going in the car, we will see you when we get home -- have fun" -- this seems to almost always work and my 3 year old will start running. 2. "I will come back and walk with you if you will ask nicely. Can you say it nicely -- say, please Mama, come hold my hand/pick me up" If he complies, I will got get him.

I want my child to know that I am the boss, but I also want him to know that I will ALWAYS pick him up or hold his hand if he wants me to and I can physically do it. He has to ask in a nice way, though.

I think you did fine -- you DO have to pick your battles!


I would go and get him if only to actually get everyone IN the car and on the way. I freaking hate to be late.

My husband however has to be THE BOSS, no matter what. Frankly, it annoys the everliving fuck out of me that he can't bend just a little ever to save the peace.

Most of the time I will make them ask me nicely, and I have pulled the "ok bye - I'm leaving you now" on them when in a bind.

I say whatever gets everyone on the road with the least amount of fighting and day-ruining activity wins.

My kids are 6 and 3. PITAs.

You did the right thing.
The fight was about the sweets - and you stood your ground on the sweets issue.
AND then you still helped him feel loved and secure by going to him.
I definitely think you did the right thing ;)

Tertia, I found the Love and Logic website incredibly helpful - I haven't even read the books yet. Here's a link to the articles: http://www.loveandlogic.com/articles.html

Basically you give your child choices constantly - two choices, both of which agree with you, and if they don't pick within 6 seconds you pick for them. For instance, we've pretty much eliminated bedtime dramas by giving choices like, do you want your pyjama top on first, or the bottoms? Do you want to brush your teeth in your bathroom or mine? Do you want 2 kisses at bedtime or 3? Before you know it, they're in bed, no battles.

It has helped so much with my boys on the whole. They feel like they have some control over their lives in general and they are too busy picking to think about arguing with the choices. It has reduced the battles of will.

So, maybe not specifically helpful in that specific situation, but give it a try and I think you'll find that it would help in future with standoffs.

First of all, let me just say I was way more strict than you are. Not a judgment, just a fact.

In this case I would have gone and picked the kid up and carried him to the car.

I would of done exactly what you did. It's the same thing with clothes. I personally could care less if my daughter wants to go out on the town with green pants and orange top, if it's appropriate for the weather. My SIL on the other hand forces her kids to wear what she wants them to wear, no exceptions. Geesh. Let the kids breathe a little. The clothing battle is not one I need be bothered with.

My sister is a school social worker, understands very well the developmental tasks that lay before our children (pushing boundaries being right on target for 3-4 year olds). Her advice is always this: "Is it a safety issue?" She will stand firm on those things that endanger her children, but the rest she lets slide. In fact, I would say maybe she is a little soft the other way, not enforcing enough. (So if you're worried about leaning that way, I'll say you have great company because my sister is a wonderful mom.)

But, the sweets rule is understandable because of the many repercussions of having sweets before dinner (hyper children, sugar crash, not eating a great dinner, etc.), but walking to get your child? Fine, fine, fine. There are only so many more months and moments when we can soothe them and offer the comfort they seek. So, give in as your heart tells you. You know your children best and you are doing your best. That's all that matters.

What's worked consistently with all 5 of my daughters has been to set and enforce boundaries.

I would have handled it very close to how you did, with one exception: When Lola (almost 3) pulls that stuff, I have to be firm. In this case, I would have let him know that if he didn't come right NOW, there wouldn't be sweets even after dinner or the rest of the night.

I do the "count to 3 thing" (and oh my lord, have been counting to 3 for 20 years!) and as long as I follow through it's a reliable part of the discipline. Not only does it work for me, but for daddy, sisters, nanny, etc.

And then I praise the kidlet for being such a good girl, as it really does mean a lot to me when she behaves.

Good luck!

go to him, for sure. like you said, not a battle you had to pick, but i've seen my brother do things like that, and there's always a very distinct pattern. those kinds of requests always, without fail, came after some kind of refusal that made him feel a little unloved, and he just wanted to know that my parents did, in fact, still like him, even if they wouldn't let him wear his halloween chicken costume to the store, or something like that. (runon alert lol.) i don't think it was a really "push your buttons" thing, he just wasn't too happy and wanted a little reassurance from you, which makes *so* much sense from the point of view of an almost four year old. and really, all he wanted was to hold your hand. why begrudge him that? you did it right. :)

I am a lurker but I wanted to say you did the right thing. You have to pick your battles and you did that with the sweets. Yes some will say your should have made him come to you but he was already on edge from losing the sweets. Good luck

FYI I have a three boys 6, 3 3/4 and 8 months.

Tertia you could almost be describing my just turned 4 year old son - except he likes to get me to carry him in those situations. Like you described there, I generally end up doing as he asks, and I also worry I'm giving in too much, but my god I don't have the will or the energy to try and fight him on everything.

I often get frustrated at my son's attempts to control situations, but then I try to remember how little control he actually does have over things and I think you are right, parenting is about picking battles and refusing reassurance and affection is not a battle I want to engage in.

I think I would have gotten a "please" since he sounded rather demanding. But, I would have gone and gotten him.

When children do something that they know is wrong they often feel 'bad' and need a little reassurance that they are still loved and wanted i.e extra attention.

It's important to teach them boundaries but it is also important to teach them forgiveness. As for the 'tone' of his request - he's still learning, he'll get it right.

I voted for Other: Stomp to the bathroom and carry him on my hip like a sack of potatoes.

My kid hates that, but you know what? He wasn't coming the way I asked him to, so he lost his vote on the matter.

I would definitly said NO to the sweets and then I probably would have given in and walked to the bathroom and gotten him by the hand, it does get easier but my six year old still pulls it on me, like put my socks on mumma then I will put my own shoes own, depending on how stretched for time I am I usually end up putting on her socks, she has SID like Adam and sometimes there are battles that a normal parent child relationship is different, I know how she can melt down and sometimes I don't want to deal with it, is this wrong is this being not strick enough who the hell knows but in 8 years when they don't want to be touched at all at least I can say hell I put her socks on.........I guess I have NO assvice to give you, I would be more worried about him eatting to many sweets then having to hold is hand......kids with SID are a little different when it comes to parenting....just keep trying to say you come to me and eventually I think he will but in the meantime what is a little hand holding ???????? See No assvice here!@! LOL

Stick to one issue at a time. Don't pour fuel on the fire. If he had said, "I won't come unless you give me sweets," it would have been another story. The sweets issue was over and the less emotional you could be about the leaving, the better. So hard to do, but IMO you totally did the right thing.

yep, you did good - perfect in fact. you stood your ground on the sweets, and then 'negotiated' with him re getting to the car.

you could also have verbalised something like - "I know you feel mad because I said no sweets right now, but you will be able to have some later if you come to me now so we can go If I come to you and walk with you, then there will be no sweets tonight. If you would like sweets, then you need to come to me. You choose." And then, just stand your ground again on whatever he decided to do.

otherwise, you rocked. and i so agree, pick your battles - it is not worth going head to head with a little kid on most things. even with my 14 month old, i don't do it - as she will always take it further than i will ... not worth the strain except on the big stuff.

This has happened to me too. I have to admit I choose either A or B at different occasions. I know I am not being very consistent. But sometimes I just didn't want to deal it and didn't want to hear more whining, so I gave in; but other times I had the will and energy, so I just kept on walking, they could either follow me, which they did, or more whining.

I think you definitely did the right thing. As a child psychologist, I tell parents - hold firm on issues about "stuff" (toys, candy etc), but be flexible on issues about attachment (wanting you to come to him, be near him, hold his hand). Perhaps he just wanted to reassure himself that even though you said no about sweets you still would say yes if he needs you.

I must be a mean mommy, because I will just say "leaving now .. buh bye!" when my two don't listen/don't comply. Mind you, I've now been at this for nearly 6 years with them, so this technique has evolved over time. At K&A's age, however ... I probably would have caved and gone to get him. It's hard to remember that now, because there has been so much more like this that has come down the pike since then.

But this is a good reminder to choose my battles ...

By the way, that boundary testing thing: it continues well into their teens!

Trust me, it is easier to enforce boundaries now (and let them know that you WIlL enforce them) than it is to let things slide now and then expect them to follow rules when they are older and the consequences are greater.

In the non-pick-battle situations (and I agree, the walking thing is a non-pick), I make my kids ask me, not demand of me. Like this:

me: Come here please, Colicboy!
Colicboy: come and walk with me.
me: Oh, you're a big boy! Come here silly! (smile)
Colicboy. No. come and get me!
me: How do you ask for things that you want? (firm voice, calm, serious)
Colicboy: please.
me: mm-hmm (nodding). Please what?
Colicboy: Please come and hold my hand and walk with me.
me: Sure. good asking please. (go and get him and hold his hand!)

If I was having an "A" parenting day, I would done what you did, except I would have extracted a "please" before going to the child.

If I was having an "F" parenting day, I would have yelled something mean (like "Get your behind out here RIGHT NOW!!!"), or gone in and bodily carried the (probably shrieking) child to the car.

Most of the time I think I have more "A" days than "F" days ... it is hard, though. You are doing great!

I agree with the comment above. I know how sensitive Adam is, though, and as his mom you know what approach he responds best to. Certainly giving in one or two times is hardly going to reverse a good disciplinary system. Especially because he was feeling extra sensitive at that moment. But when you ask or tell him to do something, does he usually respond promptly, or do you always find yourself having to ask three, four, or more times? Do you have to raise your voice often? Does he often attempt to bargain, or gain control over a situation with you?

When that becomes a typical reaction of a child to being issued a request or command, then they've realized that the tired/stressed out parent will usually give in to their demands. This creates a situation that is not good for the parent or the child. So I say, certainly choose your battles, but up to a point. When it becomes an ingrained behavior (or hopefully, before it does!) it's time to dig in your own heels and refuse to compromise. I find it's really helpful to work through in my mind how I will react to certain situations, and go through the things they might do to try and gain control back over the situation (such as yell, do that "flop" thing, fight me, etc) and how I'll react THEN. I go through every possible scenario that I can think of, work out a game plan, and then I never waver. I react the same way whether I could really care less what they are doing, or I'm seething in anger inside, etc. I remain consistent.

It works great. For everything EXCEPT food. I still have no clue with that. That's one battle I just don't touch. I swear there is something instinctual in them where they will only eat macaroni and cheese and four other food items until they are fifteen. It's like fighting nature!

I would do what you did. You already denied the sweets, so he needs to reaffirm a little bit of control to forget the fact that, in fact, he has none. When I don't feel like giving in but I am in a hurry, I do the 'I'm counting to three' thing.

I have no idea. But I will repeat one piece of advice from a friend with 4 kids (4 very well behaved, very respectful, creative and lovely kids I should add). a lot of people will tell you to "pick your battles". which is good advice. But she goes one step further and says to "only fight the battles you know you can win".

I don't know how that applies here but I do repeat her advice to myself often throughout the day. And I do see parents doing the opposite all the time. They draw a line with their kids but have no way to enforce the line when the kids test them. And then the whole thing falls apart and the kids know you're a push over.

HEre's my two cents: you stood your ground with the candy. And while he was definitely trying to regain a bit of power by asking you to come and get him, it's not that big a deal. It was something very definitely non-critical. If he had thrown a fit and said he was not going at all - that would have been different. This way, you got something you wanted (no candy) and he got something he wanted (some positive? attention from you).


I am not a parent, but I have a real problem with kids telling their parents what to do. It's one thing to defy you and another thing to order you around. If he really refused to come out, I would have gone in to get him, but not nicely. There would have been a punishment for that. I deal with college students who have grown up telling their parents what to do, and it's not pretty. So since you asked, I think you should have been harder. I think once it's established that he can't make you do things like that, he won't. I never would have dreamed of saying something like that to either of my parents when I was a kid. The thought wouldn't have entered my mind, and if someone had suggested, I would have known that it would have been a very bad idea.

There will come a time when you can't go get him for whatever reason (your hands are full, you hurt your back, you are juggling the new baby - whatever) and when that happens you will tell him so in a voice that lets him know you would come if you could but you can't and he will come to you because he will know that you really can't get there and he will know that because when you can, you do.

You are doing the right thing. Bravo!

All you did is pick your battle. There is nothing wrong with that.

In my opinion, I think you did the right thing. You did exactly what you stand by. Picking your battles. I also think in either a direct or indirect way, you're teaching your kids to compromise. No sweets before dinner, but a nice Mommy escort to the car. You both "won". :)

I think I'm relieved to see that stuff is coming down so one-sided (you did the right thing) here.

I'm mothering an only-1.5-year-old so my perspective may be off, but I admit I had a thought similar to Auburn's advice above ("only fight the battles you know you can win") which was, "Really? Could you REALLY have MADE him come out?" Now, of course you could. I know you could. You could have sat there and refused to do anything until he came out and I'm sure you would have won. But how long might it have taken? That's a serious question, I don't have a four-year old and I realize that theoretical absolutes (Adam goes on a Gandhi-like hunger strike and remains in the bathroom for months) are, often (and surely here) quite different from actual absolutes (Adam pouts for 3 minutes and then rejoins the family, or some such). But still.

Now of course you could have done the "Come out right now or no sweets after dinner thing," too, which isn't the same as making him, but similar, and honestly I don't know what the right answer is there, but clearly your average reader (or at least commenter) does.

I would have asked him "Now how do we ask for something we want? We say please." Then if he said "Please come here and hold my hand mama" I would have given in. I think you did just fine. This was something that wasn't worth picking an argument over. Will he always ask you to come hold his hand on the way to the car? No, probably not. Could he get into the habit of eating sweets all day if he was allowed? Yes. So I think you picked the more important battle.

I think you did the right thing. We teach them boundaries and discipline but we also teach them to be assertive and just. Pick your fights. With all children you could really be fighting every little issue all the time! We are the adults and the decisions we make determine the atmosphere of the Family. Children will just react to our lead. Its most important that they feel loved and secure in their relationships with us, and that will enable them to grow into confident people who are well able to stand up for themselves.

Felicity. :)

Perfectly handled (and the "Please" comments seemed right on as well - though depending on the stage of the melt-down).

All that and raging pregnancy hormones as well! Well done!

I removed the sweet cupboard to higher up when mine was little - fewer battles to choose from ...god knows I have plenty. I put it back at her reach when she was 6 + and able to reason (well... reason a little bit!)

Hi Tertia,

I very rarely comment on your blog though I read it every day. I just had to respond to this one though, because I feel I'm in a rather unique parenting situation and I wanted to share my experience with you.

I am a parent to a new baby boy - 8 months old November 1. He is a joy and a very well behaved child, as they so often are at that age, but obviously parenting challenges will come as he gets older and develops his own personality and all that comes along with it.

Now I also have two step children, a girl who is eleven and a boy who is fifteen. They are not always as easy to parent as they were when I met them 6 years ago, as we all know the teen and pre-teen years bring new challenges in the parenting scope.

The one thing I keep reminding myself of is that as I raise my littlest one I want to stay on top of discipline. With my step children, discipline has not been consistent (between the two households) and they are very used to being able to manipulate, will, argue and cry their ways in to what they want. It's VERY HARD to change this behavior during this stage in their lives.

So. Long story short? (not!) I would say, keep in mind that giving in now (even with the little things) sets a standard for 2 years, 4 years and ten years from now. I wish we would have done things differently around here earlier on, I think our lives would be a bit easier at this moment if we had.


I agree with your philosophy and about picking your battles because...my word, who has the energy to argue and battle all day long with their children. I have a 3 year old son who is the size of a 4.5 year old and figure I can't/shouldn't rely on physically enforcing things because he is going to be bigger and stronger than I am soon. I've been getting a lot of testing as well lately. Boy does it get old fast. My approach (after a bit of trial and error, reading a few books, and taking to the director of our preschool who is a child development expert) is slightly different. We've been working a lot on "actions have consequences" approach along with needing to be a good listener and cooperative. I use those words to him. For example, if you wake your brother and sister, I will not have time to cuddle with you/play with you right now; If you take too long in the bath or cleaning up your toys, we will not have time to read a book before bed; If you want to go to the pumpkin patch this weekend, I need you to be a good listener/cooperate as I can't go out with you unless I know I can count on you to listen/cooperate. If you want to go to Aunt Kris's, I need you to be a good listener/cooperate. And, explain that good listening means to do what is asked the first time or stop doing what you are doing (as the case may be..like don't hit, bonk, roar in your brothers face) the first time. And, as I am a single mom with my 3 year old and 4 1/2 month old preemie twins, I really CAN'T go places with him/them unless I know he will listen. He is starting to see the connections and it has helped the testing and the battles that no one wins immensely. I'm sure it's helping that his teachers at preschool are using the same words and we are on the same page as listening was a bit of a problem there for a week or two. So, I will say things like "Mrs. J has to tell me you were a good listener for 3 days" for us to be able to do whatever he would like to do. "Mrs. J, how was M's listening today?" All that to say, I would have probably done exactly what you did, but had a conversation about how I understand that he is angry with me and we are ready to go granny's and the longer we take to get there the less time we will have to xys (play with your cousins, spend with granny, whatever). I also use the counting and choices a lot and that seems to help them have some control. Like you, I try to give as much control to him as possible. It takes a lot of energy to parent, that is for sure. Good luck with it.

My son often does the exact same thing as Adam (whine for sweets and to hold me hand when going down the stairs or something). If we are in a rush to leave the house and he refuses to budge, I tell him, "Well, I'm leaving now...you can stay home." That ALWAYS gets him moving because he does NOT like the idea of being left behind. One of these days, I know he's gonna call my bluff but until then, I have something that works! =P

I'm strict. My reaction to knowing that it was just because he was angry about the no-sweets thing would be "Tough." In theory, I'd count to three, name a consequence for getting to three, enforce it if he didn't do what I asked. In practice...well, I'm tired. Things slide. :) But I still would be hesitant to leave the impression that being mad about Mom saying no is somehow a justification--one condoned by Mom--for being defiant and pissy later on.

I do the 1-2-3 consequence method myself and agree. Pick your battles wisely! If child is doing something I cannot tolerate/totally unacceptable to me I start counting. And so damn effective if you stick with the consequence! Works for me and kids are now 15 and twins are 11 and do not need it anymore, perhaps rarely.

Let the kids know who is boss nicely. You are kind, caring and there for them but there has to be consequences when they misbehave. Just keep on choosing what battles to wisely fight!

Actually, I thought Adam's response was funny as hell. Perhaps he did, too. I think responding the way you did actually enables him to develop his own and autonomy and personality with just the right amount of guidance. I'll say it again, Tertia is a damn good mom. And I've seen bad ones, so stop doubting yourself. In fact, I hope that when and if my children finally get here that I can be half the mom you are.

I dont see anything wrong with this at all, I would have done the same thing.
All I can say is that as a mother you should be there for your children no matter what, Adam was feeling insecure and needed you emotionally and by coming to him you showed him that you are there for him, somhow I dont see this as a struggle of who wins but more of a confirmation that you are there for him even though you are not allowing him to do something.

I was (and still am) a very sensitive child. I feel everything extremely hard and long. I can really relate to Adam in that way. I have often thought about how my parents were often harsh with me when it was not what I needed at the time. They were just doing their best (good disciplinarians!), but often when I just needed softness, love and gentleness, they gave me harshness, anger and disappointment. I still feel the pain from that today (28 years old and counting...), but I am SUPER sensitive. My point is that, often the discipline that my parents gave me did not achieve what it was supposed to, because I was always going to grow up to be responsible and good and "well-behaved" - in fact it may have done more damage than good. So, Adam needs special care and softness. I think you definitely did the right thing. He needed you to reach out for him then, and you did. It's not a boundary that needed to be upheld - in the big scheme of things, it is not going to turn him into a delinquent! xxxx

I agree that the two issues were different and dealt with separately. Children will always push the envelope. I feel that it is important for them to have the security of discipline but at the same time, their spirit must not be broken.

I'm Mum to a 20 year old - a little out of practise!

You have a sweet cupboard?
First and only mistake

He should have come to you and I am guilty of doing this as well. When it is bedtime and he doesn't want to go then he will say "then carry me!" and for the sake of me getting to watch TV on my own and smoke a fag, I do it. It is terrible for setting boundaries though and it may seem like a non-event but I do believe that it shows them they are controlling us which is fatal - I am especially conscious of how this is going to manifest in the teenage years if I look at the total disrespect my nephew has for my sister and he is 20. So difficult and I am always taking the path of least resistance as my dear husband keeps reminding me because I don't want a "scene" and what ends up happening is that he still disrespects and ignores me so clearly I am doing something horribly wrong. Hi ho, hi ho it's off (back) to parenting courses I go.

In this day and age I think parents (me included!) worry WAY too much about how one choice is going to screw up our kids in the future. If it felt right to you to go to Adam, then that's what you should have done. You stuck firm on the sweets (I agree with that) and that was the important battle.

Do what you feel like doing in your heart. We all need to relax a little. I don't think parents of previous generations had all this time to obsess over these things. They just did their best and we all turned out (mostly) ok.

Would not have gone to him.

I have taught our little one from an early age that if I call on him he is to come to me. For me that is a safety concern that I needed him to understand and generalize to any situation. In the house, yard, store, playground or where ever we may be.

I would have let him know we were all ready to leave and when he comes to me I would hold his hand to the vehicle. But if I have to go get him then there will be consequences such as no sweets later or what ever was appropriate (related to what caused his demand/request).

If he came to me then I would have gotten down on his eye level and told him that I was proud that he listened and came to me (reminding him why coming when he is called is important) and gave him a big hug and held his hand to the vehicle.

I admit I would have done the "OK, we are leaving without you bye bye!" thing too! Depending on how stressed I was at that moment I might have gone and got him and carried him to the car. I do try and pick my battles because otherwise we would spend the whole day arguing about stupid nonsense but sometimes it is very hard.

Oh and I do a lot of what a previous poster suggested - offer things that have the same outcome. "Me or DP to get you out of the bath?" "Big fork or little fork to eat all of your dinner". That ones can sometimes stop a tantrum in it's tracks.

I want to add that I would never tell our son that I am leaving or anything like that to give him the impression that I would ever actually leave him alone. Sure it works for a lot of people. I have seen and heard it many many times in public and at family/friends. To me that is saying, "I could leave you and you would be all alone." That sounds like rejection and/or abondonement, and can be very scary and hurtful and plant fear and insecurity in the child. Just the thought of a child feeling that way is very sad. No offense to those who use it, but that is just how I feel about that type of option.

You did the right thing by going to get him. You already won the main battle about the sweets. You were trying to get out of the house. You other option was to demand he come to you and that would have turned into a big battle for no reason. It would have taken a lot longer and you might have had to go get him anyway. It is better to stay calm and let some things go. He was wounded by not getting his way with the sweets and needed some mommy reinforcement, nothing wrong with giving it to him. Especially since he was willing to come, but he just wanted you to walk with him.

I think you did great - exactly what I would have done. You stood strong on the sweets and it's not like he was refusing to go to Mimi's, he just reached out for a little help (in the form of physical comfort from you) and you gave it to him.

In your present hormonal mood coupled with your sensitivity you are asking this question? Are u suicidal or something?
How do I put this then? Um, remember how you & Marko were going to be very strict parents? Not. You could do with some of the stubborn van der valk genes, remember mom's analogy how they are still supple young slim branches when younger and how once they are teens, they are far more solid and harder to bend.
PS, I agree with picking your fights, just more of them.

There is no right answer. It all depends on what you can take on that particular day. In general, I'd say the bigger the scene created, the more he gets what he wants. So it was probably good to walk to him, defuse the situation and prevent him from getting the attention that a tantrum would have created. My daughter pulls the same stuff with me. Just last night, she wanted me to pull down her pants to go potty, even though she is quite capable of doing it herself. When I refused, she went nuts and it was a terrible scene. I should have just pulled down the damn pants.

@Sharon I don't exactly know the significance of this but I do know that my mum used to tell me she would leave me (i.e. "If you don't get your coat on and get out the door, I'm going without you") even at a very early age, and at that age I called her on it and said, "No you wouldn't," and she said (we were at a friend's house, she wanted to get home), "Oh yes I would, in a situation like this where I know you are safe and cared for." Now in retrospect of course ... would she? I doubt it, not for my sake but for the friend's, and because it would have been more hassle to her. And I totally got it. One thing I never, ever doubted about my mother was that she would always keep me safe (true to this day and I turn 40 this year). So it's possible to use that line without creating insecurities, though whether everyone can pull it off and whether that's true for every child, I have no idea...

Couple of things on this one - I'd have made him say "please" as part of the request, which helps make it more request and less demand, you know?

Additionally, I go by the principle of actively instructing. If I ask Rosebud to do something, and she refuses, I go over to her and assist her in doing the thing she's supposed to do. That way, it's not an endless battle of me yelling and her refusing. So in a situation like the one you mentioned, I'd have gone back for her regardless, because it ties in with how I parent.

the sweet was the battle to pick - the much more important one - and the fact that he did not melt down on that one but needed a little "something" else is just fine.

You hold your ground on the stuff that's bad -- bad behavior, bad nutrition, bad habits, bad-for-the-family-dynamic -- and you do the stuff that makes you both happy. Assuming that walking while holding your kid's hand makes you happy.
Not every interaction has to be turned into an opportunity for showing who's boss. That ends up turning into an opportunity to show who's a pointlessly unaccommodating jerk.

WOW, this has provoked a lot of thought on my part. Sorry for the novel to follow.

DH and I are raising his teenage son. They lived with DH's parents from the time son was 2 until 5. DH's parents stayed in a 'grandparent' role even though they were parenting him when DH was working. I do not believe that son necessarily benefitted from this arrangement. Was he loved unconditionally? YES! Was he taught that disobedience goes unaddressed? YES!

DH continued this after moving out folloing the "it's easier to do this myself than deal with the drama (or clean up the mess he'll make)" philosophy. Sometimes with a dash of "I'm the boss around here" thrown in. Inconsistent to say the least. Son feels that EVERYTHING is up for negotiation. This has always been the case. People in his life led him to believe early on that this was acceptable. I am not in that society. DH and I have had LONG discussions about this.

I believe in being consistent. I am the most consistent person in son's life, yet, he still tries his shenanigans with me after seven years of me NOT falling for it - and it drives me CRAZY (my reaction is probably part of the reason that he still does it). Something that I have not mastered is picking my battles, though I have recently made improvements in this area.

For the child I have, because negotiating is his norm, I probably would have gone for the firmer, stricter variant of "come to me or no sweets at all today". For the child DH and I may create together one day, I'd like to think I'd go to him after asking for a "please" (or at the very least to meet him halfway between the bathroom and the door to hold his hand the rest of the way).

All that to say, I don't see anything wrong with the way you handled it for you and and the children you have. I just don't think it would work for me and the child I have. You've given me a lot to think about. Thanks.

Tertia, I think you did a fantastic job. The battle was about the candy, which you didn't let him win, as you were right to do. You still, however, let him save face, which I think is enormously important. Adam now understands that even when Mummy says no, Mummy still loves him and will help him feel better. I say that's quite important and will later lead to your children not being afraid to confide in you or turn to you for comfort. They'll know you're strict, but they'll also know that you are always on their side when the going gets tough.

Toughie. Like most, I could go either way...depending on my mood and how much of an issue I've made of it and the history of the particular issue at hand. I also make him ask nicely and/or ask him very directly (and make him answer very directly) the following: Do you really need me to come there and help you? Then I make him reflective listen back: Yes, I need you to help me. It kind of sets the tone that I'm doing him a favor and that he's taking some responsibility in the equation and acknowledging that he's unable to do the thing that I asked of him on his own.

I am a special education teacher, so I am different than a parent, but if I give a request and child doesn't honor it (i.e., "Come here,") and I have to go after them, then the consequence for me having to go get them has to be something that they either lose (a privilege) or a time out, if we have time and if it has been a repeated offense in the day. I teach children with moderate to severe disabilities, and often I am trying to stop behavior in them that I do not want to see repeated. I am almost opposite of you, with the candy vs. the coming with you...Adam didn't get the candy to disobey you (unless it is established that he does not go into the sweet cupboard to get something); he got the candy because he wanted the candy. And you told him later - something he might have been able to do is hold the candy in his pocket until after dinner? But when you told him to come and he didn't, he was disobeying you on purpose. To me, that is more worth correcting than him having candy - the candy is something that if he really wants, he can hold onto - then he is learning to delay gratification.

Am I making sense?

I absolutely agree with picking battles...and I am learning that too!! I think that battling the defiant/disobedient behaviors should be battle #1 though. But that is just me. That being said, both of your children sound delightful and I think that parents have to do what parents can live with, and I think you are doing a lovely job, from what you talk about with your kids!! :)

Yep, I agree with your actions because your example demonstrates the reality: there are 5 or 6 battles in a short amount of time, so pick your battles indeed.

My son just stirred in his sleep in his crib and muttered 'No.' Even in his sleep he is being a defiant beastie boy, a very loved one, but beastie boy nonetheless. Pick your battles, preserve your sanity.

Oh, I worry about this type of thing and I'm only 14 weeks pregnant with my first! I think about how I would deal with the big things, what rules I would have, what behaviour I would and would not allow, but then there are all these little things that I can imagine just getting so frustrated about - how will I cope with a small child that just will not put their shoes on when I'm in a rush to go out somewhere etc, I get cold chills just thinking about it!
I, from my nice, easy, not having kids yet position, would think that consistently enforcing the rules you think are important (like no sweets before tea) are the things that will get them growing up respecting rules, picking a fight over every little thing seems to me will just make them confused as to which rules are important and which aren't. That's how I'm convincing myself it will work anyway!
You have to think of your own sanity too!

I often look at these power struggles simply as needs that I am priveledged to be able to meet at this time. If I can meet a need, I try to not withhold the help. I also think of it this way, when I am particularly impatient: how do I want to be treated when I am the more helpless one?--because if I live long enough, our roles will be somewhat switched. What about when I am older and need help from my children? If my son came by to pick me up and run an errand when I was old, how would I want to be treated? Obviously, with patience--not "Hurry up Mom, I am tired of always having to wait for you--you're slowing us down and I am in a hurry". And if I ask for assistance, like stepping down off a curb, I hope to have cultivated a relationship with James or Tyler that he is more than willing to help because he can, not because he should (duty, "has to", etc). That spirit of charity and generosity I hope he has can only be taught by me modeling that level of such.

I'd quit worrying about these type of "power struggles" and try to not even see them as such. Model generosity and patience and willingness to help and that's what your children will become as well. Not right away, of course--there will be many years of narcissism and taking rather than giving, but as parents, we are in for the long haul and many of the results of our parenting are only seen after much time, especially the positive ones.

Just my two cents...

I think this was a perfect example of picking your battles. You stuck to no sweets, but you came to get him when he asked. That's fine. His brain might have been wanting to make sure you still love him. I would have gone to him. I'd have a big sigh before I went, but I would go to him.

Something that I found to be helpful was an idea introduced by our Pediatrician. He suggests not giving commands that we know the child will not obey, because then when they fail to heed the command, they are simply getting practice in not following directions and be obedient. So if I know that the child is not going to come to me and we're late and need to get the house, instead of saying, "Come over here right now!", I would just go over, take his hand, and silently proceed to the car, or engage in conversation about something entirely different, as a distraction to the transition.

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