Letter From Katie – How Do You ‘Make’ a Child Do Something?

Winter time is a daily battle with my kids to dress appropriately. Bundling up with hats and gloves is met with extreme resistance.

Every season I have to brace myself for the comments from family, friends and even strangers stating, “Well, you just have to make them wear it.”

What do they mean – “make” a kid do something? I immediately envision wrestling my kids to the ground, forcing their arms into coats and duct taping their hats to their heads.

Do you force a fork filled with vegetables into your child’s mouth?

Do you hold them down in bed until they fall asleep?

Or is it the threat of discipline that “makes” them comply? Is it fear that eventually breaks down their resolve?

I can’t “make” my kids do something.

I have strict boundaries when it comes to many issues. I won’t budge on car seat safety or physical violence, and baths must occur twice a week at minimum.

But when it comes to winter wear, eating vegetables or bedtimes, I won’t be pushing too hard.

Instead of forcing my kids to do things, I use encouragement. I also bribe them and firmly command them. Pleading and reverse psychology are also in my toolbox.

But in the end, I will not physically force my kids to submit to something.

My kids know I am the boss, but I also have learned to pick my battles.

My father used to say, “This is not the hill I want to die on.” I utter those words to keep things in perspective.

Do I really want to fuss and fight over a winter hat?

I figure that my kid will learn by the end of the day that her ears get cold with no hat.

And tomorrow she will make a different choice.

That’s a lesson that never would have been learned had I just forced her to wear the hat.