How to win a fight with a 4-year-old



“Lula, come on. Let’s do your hair and brush teeth.”

“No!” she screamed and ran to the living room. I felt my body tense, knew that was my signal to stop. Some of the thoughts running through my head were “She can’t say no. I can’t just let her get away with that. She needs to show some respect. We’ve gotta go!” If any of those thoughts were true or helpful, I would have felt it in my body. I would have felt light, spacious, and the energy running through me would have a fluid quality. Instead I felt tense and adrenaline coursed through me in an erratic, charged way.

I used to believe that if I let her “get away with that,” she would melt down in a nuclear mess of extreme brattiness. It seemed like giving in meant defeat or weakness. I was afraid if I gave an inch in any given situation, the other would take a mile.

The quickest way through a conflict is by yielding

And yet I wanted Lula to get in the bathroom and do her hair and face so we could leave on time. I could have yelled, forced, grabbed her by the arm and sternly marched her in the bathroom so we could take care of business. Instead, I decided to yield. I took a deep breath and walked into the living room prepared to let her watch cartoons for a few more minutes. She heard the fight leave my voice, turned the TV off and skipped into the bathroom with me before I even said she could have a minute.

Have you ever felt inspired?

With your children?

With your partner?

With a problem?

Marketing your business?

Dealing with your boss?

Have you ever forgotten a word or the name of something and it was on the very tip of your tongue? And you tried and tried to remember, until you finally let it go. When did you remember the word or name? When you were trying hard to remember or when you were relaxed?

Did inspiration come when you were pushing, fighting, holding on? Or after you yielded to it?

2 Responses to How to win a fight with a 4-year-old

  1. Susan Viljoen April 27, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    OMW, Sarah! This is fairly brilliant. I wish I had known this when my kids were 4.. The good news is, it still works, even if they are 24. And it works with people other than our kids too.

  2. Frances July 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm #

    Loved this post b/c I too have a 4 year old, and what you described sounded a lot like my mornings too! 🙂

    And I agree with you, yielding is definitely the way thorugh conflict. When I’ve let go, inspiration has come.

    Glad to have found your blog!

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