This post is sponsored by TAC but has a really important message….
“Learn to pick your battles”. As a family counsellor and parent educator I am often reciting this line to those struggling with family conflict or everyday stress. Sometimes we need to ensure we don’t allow the tension and anxiety of the small decisions to take over the emotional energy we need to be savouring for more pressing concerns.
I am a fairly relaxed parent in many ways. I can get over the fact that my kids refuse to wear long pants despite often having to endure arctic like conditions. I have been known to give in to a biscuit before breakfast, an ice cream when dinner wasn’t finished and to let a dubious clothing choice pass.
I believe in parenting from a place of understanding and perspective in order to allow our kids to see the benefit of discussion and compromise. So sometimes, the rules that are for the most part there to be enforced, can in reality, be found to be somewhat flexible.
There are some decisions I make for my family however, that are not negotiable.
These are the rules that don’t allow for compromise, that don’t require lengthy discussion and that cannot be flexed, skewed or sent off course.
For the most part these rules are those pertaining to my kids’ safety. And as a parent, obviously this is one of our greatest responsibilities. We know this is sometimes out of our control. But instilling in our kids behaviours that allow them to make the best choices for their own safety as they grow, must be one of our highest priorities.
Many of these rules that are not negotiable in our family, relate to road safety:
Holding hands to cross the road: this is a no brainer for the younger kids. Aside from making them hold our hand, we can talk about how we know when it is safe to cross and get them involved in making the decisions about crossing safely. As my kids have got older I hope the lessons they learnt watching and listening as we crossed the road together have ensured they have the skills to do so safely on their own.
Seatbelts in a car: again a no brainer but also one that parents need to ensure they are always doing too. I would have thought this one wouldn’t need mentioning but according to recent reports it seems some parents and their children, are still not ‘buckling up’.
Wearing a helmet: when on a bike or scooter they cannot leave the house without a helmet. Again as this is a rule that was started early, there are very few questions ever asked. It just becomes something that must happen and something they know is a ‘non negotiable’.
Kids behaviour is usually a habit that then becomes the norm. It is the role of the parent to ensure that the best habits are being formed early, to ensure the best behaviour and decision making later on.
If we want to allow our kids to learn from their mistakes and build on their independence then by all means let them dress themselves or pour their own drinks. But when it comes to being safe on and near roads, then the behaviours must be taught right from the start, and the choices, non negotiable.
What are the ‘non negotiable’ rules in your family?
For more information on teaching road safety you can check out ThingleToodle on Youtube