There have been times in my budding parenting career that a true battle of wills has ensued. I never thought I would spend so much time and energy trying to rationalize with a freaking toddler. These conversations are unavoidable, but they are survivable.
Pick your battles.
Before the battle begins, make sure it is worth fighting. The increased stress and aggravation just is not worth it in every situation. If the situation allows, it can be so much easier to just let it go.
I typically cave to unique versions of fun. My kids are known to strip naked and have some serious mud fights. At least they are considerate enough to spare me the extra laundry. Plus naked mud farm fun is a memory I hope they cherish.
Remember you are talking with a child.
Tempers flare. I have a hell of a short fuse at times and my son seems to enjoy lighting me up as often as possible.
It can be very difficult to keep myself in check. I have to repeat to myself that he is just doing what he is supposed to do. He is learning how to interact with the world by practicing at home.
I try my best to calmly explain my frustrations to him. When I can hear the anger in my voice escalating, I have to take a step back myself. This can be part of the learning process for him too. I have to demonstrate how to not lose one’s shit.
Give credit where credit is due.
My kids are smart. The kind of smart where I have a hard time predicting their argument strategy from conflict to conflict.
Recently my 5-year old told me I was “stiffing his creativity” by not letting him paint on the wall. Obviously this caught me off guard. I had to give him verbal props for the strategy. Clearly I shut that shit down, but not before talking about how he could intelligently support his view. We talked about alternative ways of expressing himself and his creativity. Then I gave him the magic eraser.
My job is to make sure I do not let my children develop into little assholes. My best theory of how to accomplish this is to try like hell to teach them how to handle conflict in a constructive way.