“My kids argue constantly with me and it is driving me crazy! No matter what I say they have to have the last word!” Sound familiar?
Nothing pushes a parent’s buttons more than an argumentative child. I actually had a parent tell me one time, “I would pay a million dollars if someone could tell me how to stop my son from arguing with everything I say!” Trust me, I jumped on that one quicker than you can imagine! Ha!
I don’t mean to make light of it. Living in an argumentative atmosphere is like having a poisonous gas permeating the air…it is toxic to the entire family. It kills any sense of peace in the home, keeping everyone on edge and in a constant state of defensiveness.
The first thing to examine is why kids argue with their parents. The answer is simple. Because they can! Children are continuously testing boundaries. They do not do this with malice but as a way to learn about themselves and the world around them which includes relationships with parents, siblings, teachers etc. And when they sense lines of limitation they most often accept them. (Although there are always exceptions to the rule!)
And so the rest of the answer falls on your plate as the one who is responsible to set the boundaries accordingly. The real culprit is the gray hazy line between wanting to allow your children to have a voice and at the same time utilizing healthy communication skills.
But the truth of the matter is that when a child resorts to arguing he either does not have healthy communicating skills or is choosing not to use them.
In either case that becomes your first step in correcting the situation. You must be sure that you have modeled to him a healthy way of communicating and put for the effort to teach him how to use these skills in his life.
The second thing is to understand a child’s motive for arguing. The answer to this is two-fold. One, because they believe they are right and justified in their position and two, they have learned that there is in fact a pay-off for their determination. In other words, they believe they can wear you down, thus, getting what they want.
I have a feeling you have already begun to see how parents can diffuse arguments!
If you are thinking that you have the power to stop an arguing child in their tracks you are absolutely correct!
Arguing is a negative method of communicating. Its purpose is to verbally force one’s wishes or ideas on to the other person.
In order to change the behavior you must change the payoff.
Step #1 Be sure your child has an understanding of healthy communication skills.
Step#2 Enforce the use of these skills by refusing to participate in any conversation when your child reverts back to using negative skills( ie: arguing)
Step#3 Stand your ground! Your refusal to participate means he loses by default…regardless of the topic of the argument. One person cannot create an argument! Therefore, it is stopped in its tracks giving you the opportunity to restate the boundaries of using healthy communication skills.
Following these simple steps consistently will teach your child that his best chance of being heard is to choose to present his thoughts, feelings and desires to you in a respectful healthy manner. When they realize arguing does not pay they will choose a different path!
(**Note Yes, I was able to help that parent stop her son from arguing with her and No, I did not receive the million dollars!!)