26/05/2009 01:11 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Tip Of The Day: Pick Your Battles

Wouldn't life be so much easier if our children did everything we wanted them to, straight away, every time?

One unfortunate side effect I have found from attempting to raise confident and independent children, is that sooner or later they will start being confident bordering on cheeky right back at you.

There's no such thing as the correct way to discipline children - each individual family has to work out its own correct path. But you will find it a lot easier to maintain the family equilibrium (and your own sanity) if you adopt this mantra: Pick Your Battles.

Read on for more on why this is so.

So what do I mean by pick your battles?

  • Don't pick your child up on every little thing they do wrong. Yes, have absolutes like no hitting or swearing, but there will be times when you can let it slide.
  • Don't wade in straight away with bickering siblings. Give them a chance to work it out themselves.
  • Let your child have some control and choice over their lives. So maybe you choose their outfit, but they have last word on shoes and undies. Or maybe they choose it all, because they'll soon learn that a sundress won't work in November.
  • Ignore, rather than engage with the behaviour you don't want to encourage.
  • Show that you have high behaviour standards, but at the same time respect your child's individuality.

I don't think either you or your child would be happy if you were to point out every little time their behaviour goes adrift. You would end up exhausted and they would have low self esteem. And sometimes children do kick off simply because they're tired, not because they're actively trying to wind you up.

Save your energy for the big things and let the rest of it roll off you like water off a duck's back.