Empowering Mothers, part 4, Avoiding Battles

By: Delana H Stewart

[Or, download Empowering Mothers the whole four part series of articles.]

medieval battle, javelins

Dealing with power drains, establishing respect, and developing self-control are only part of being the strong parent that your kids need you to be. In “When Love is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder,” Nancy Thomas covers many additional important matters, most of them solely apply, however, to kids with RAD. One final area she addresses that I believe to be a key to good parenting in general is avoiding wrong battles.

Food Issues

When at the table, learn to tell your child what to do instead of what not to do. For example, rather than tell your child to stop playing in his food, tell him to sit on one hand. If he continues to play, have him sit on both hands for a few minutes. Instead of telling your child to stop blowing bubbles in her milk, tell her to give you the straw. If your child does not want to eat a particular item (e.g. broccoli) then say: “I guess your taste buds are just not mature enough. For now, I get yours, but remember that only people who eat a healthy, balanced dinner get to eat dessert. Ms. Thomas suggested saying that if you are not hungry enough to eat this, then you are not hungry enough for dessert. To me, that leads to a clean your plate mentality that can lead to obese children. It also isn’t true. I can be hungry for dessert and just plain not interested in eating what is good for me. That is why I recommended a different statement. If a child simply refuses to eat dinner, just excuse them from the table. When she asks what she can eat instead of what you set before her, a fun reply is “breakfast.” If she asks at lunch time, I suppose the reply would be dinner or supper. Parenting with Love and Logic offers some really great tips for dealing with mealtime issues.

Noise Issues

If a room time results in screaming, crying, fussing, etc., then try this technique. Tell your child that he may spend 30 minutes in his room being quiet or 2 hours in his room continue to make that noise. If your child hassles you with whining, crying, fit throwing at other times of the day, then Ms. Thomas suggests saying: “You are hassling me with all that noise now. Do you really want to do that? If it is important to you, I’ll make a list of hassle time chores for you to do for me to pay me back.”


After a child has thrown a fit, give her time to settle and regain control with a minimum of 5 minutes of good sitting. Then, have a lap time session where you ask her to talk about what happened. What made you feel that way? How did you handle that mad feeling? How might you handle it better next time? Encourage or prompt a good response. The brain does not think or respond well during periods of rage. The anger might need to be worked off with physical activity before a period of sitting.


Whatever behavior you emphasize is the behavior your child will repeat. So don’t place pizzazz or emphasis on behaviors that you don’t want repeated. Intensity, raised voice, change of tone, wide-eyed eye contact, animated expression all provide emphasis. Reserve these for expressing excitement and enthusiasm when you catch your child doing something right.

Positive Endings

Use positive statements such as: “What a nice smile you have today,” “You’re getting to be a good helper,” “Right now you are doing a good job.” Do not let the sun go down on your anger. And, leave yesterday in the past. Let each day start fresh. If your child brings up the past say, “Aren’t you glad that’s over! That was yesterday, we’re working on today. How’s today going to be?”

If you adopted your child and think that perhaps she or he might have Attachment Disorder, click here.


For one mom’s strategies for repairing the relationship after an angry moment, read this:



Need Encouragement for the difficult days:

Is parenting and teaching overwhelming at times? Do you ever feel caught in an emotional undertow?

Three Days at Sea: Soul flotation when the waves are pulling you under




One thought on “Empowering Mothers, part 4, Avoiding Battles

  1. Pingback: Empowering Mothers, part 3, Developing Self-Control | The Education Cafe

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