Should you give in to your kids?

Should you give in to your kids or stand your ground? Where do you draw the line?

Being a parent is tough at the best of times. Your child will challenge your patience, push you to the limits and see how much they can get away with before you crack. This is not just your child. Behind every stressed and tired parent there is a son or daughter who is testing the boundaries.

Just like you, I am a mother trying to find a balance between standing my ground and giving my children enough leeway to make their own decisions. Between saying no when I have doubts and giving in to them when they pester relentlessly. It is tough.

Is there room to move or is your opinion the final say?

When it comes to saying what and when your children can do things, should there be room for negotiation? Should children have a chance to plead their case and change your mind? Do you see this as giving in? There are so many factors to consider over what seems like just a simple question.

I like to think that when my son asks me to play the Playstation and I say no because you have homework or chores to do, that he will accept that and let it go. Unfortunately this is not always the case and as a nine year old it is only natural that he is learning the art of compromise.

The ifs, buts and maybes

It isn’t uncommon for a toddler, primary or teen to rebel and not take no as an acceptable answer. This will often result in tears which is why in an effort to keep the peace, many parents find it helpful to explain their reasoning behind certain conclusions. To justify why they have made that decision. For some, this is a very effective tool in letting your child down gently and with the knowledge that you had reasons for your response.

Unfortunately for others, any attempt to justify your answer will land on deaf ears because the moment the child hears ‘no’, they hear nothing beyond that. Immediately on the defence, they typically get frustrated and annoyed because they didn’t get what they want.

In situations like this, I stand firm on my decision. I leave no room for compromise because I feel if my child has reached this point, by giving in and giving them what they want (regardless of their age) they will eventually start to associate negative behaviour with being rewarded. I came to that conclusion for a reason and so I am sticking to it!

You may also like: What to do when your child throws a tantrum in public?

Compromising – Can it be done without giving in?

As children grow, they learn the art of compromise. This can be a great opportunity for them to learn ‘if I do this, can I do that?’. It allows children the chance to think beyond the next five minutes and gain a skill required later in life.

They will try at the wrong times which is when your guidance comes in handy. Let’s say for example: while I stand my ground on particular things, such as using the Playstation or devices on school days, I am happy to offer flexibility on the weekend. The older boys (aged 9 and 7) will often say ‘on Friday afternoon/Saturday morning, can we please use xyz once we have done our chores?’ More often than not the answer is yes. Finding that balance of yes and no is the difficult bit.

Unlike compromise, giving in to them because they harass you or throw tantrums will only teach your child that manipulation and pestering works. The real world does not operate this way.

Pick your battles

Picking your battles can be a challenging gig for parents because you want them to be respectful people but it is also very important to remember that at the end of the day, they are just children and sometimes it is OK to make exceptions. Whether it is eating vegetables, playing devices, camping with friends sans parents or something else entirely; some battles are worth letting go. Will one exception really matter? In my experience, no. Picking your battles reduces your stress, allows your child to make decisions and reduces the risk of tantrums on other problems.

Regardless what your style of parenting is, you are doing a good job. You will have days where your kids are angry because you said no; but you said no for a reason. Just remember – I am the parent and I am responsible for this little human. It is my responsibility to teach them how to accept what is and whether this is by standing my ground, giving in or compromising, that is OK!

Kell Kelly


Tags: Parenting
Kell Kelly

Kell Kelly is a mum, a wife to her childhood sweetheart and a writer. She shares her home in the picturesque Hunter Valley wine region with her husband and 4 children. When she isn’t working at home, folding laundry or chasing the kids to put on their shoes; she enjoys discovering her surroundings, taking in the great outdoors and spending some much needed time with her husband. Prior to...

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