The following is a look at picking your battles as a parent:
Avoiding battles in the first place. Whenever possible, avoid battles. Because of the nature of your relationship as a parent in authority over a child, battles are sure to happen. Your child has to assert independence and push you, and sometimes you have to push back. When you can avoid the push, that is good. You do this by allowing your child a measure of independence, but within some set limitations that are reasonable for the age and situation.
Ignore things that don’t matter morally or put them in physical danger. If your child is doing something that does not hurt them, others, or affect their moral standing, don’t turn it into a battle. The thing about battles is that if you set a rule, you are setting the ground work for a battle, or an undermining of authority. You either fight with your kids and hold out on your rule. Or, you give in, and let them have their way, and lose authority. So, set rules that matter, and don’t set rules about things that don’t. Does it really matter if your preschooler wants to wear their pajamas to school? Does it really matter if your teenager wants to have green hair?
Set proper consequences. If you are going to battle you need some consequences in place. However, the consequences need to fit the crime. Your fights will escalate to great proportions if you are not careful about the consequences. If a child feels like they have been treated unfairly, they will overreact. The battle will turn into a war, and you will be left with more anger and frustration than you bargained for.
Set rules and limits that are reasonable. By setting a rule, you have decided what you feel is worth battling about. So, be sure not to set rules about stuff you don’t want to battle about. If you set a rule about curfew, and your child breaks it, then you have a battle. If you ignore them breaking it, you are not picking your battle, you are giving in, and giving them your authority. If your child doesn’t get a job, wears their hair in a Mohawk, and has a lot of piercings, you may choose to battle with them about their appearance, and forego hounding them about getting a job. Whatever rules you pick need to be reasonable for who they are and their situation.
Decide if the win is worth it. Is the lesson taught worth the frustration? Is the relationship strain worth the fight? Sometimes things just are not worth the pain, anger, yelling, fighting, and bad feelings that come about because of it. If your child is not in danger physically, is not endangering others, or compromising their morals, it may not be worth a fight. Fights over clothes, hair, music, food, etc. are generally not worth it. Fights over sex, drugs, alcohol, choosing friends, religion, and driving, etc. are usually worth it, as they result in far worse consequence, and much longer lasting consequences.