In our “Learn Simple Ways To Parent Without Anger” Class we opened the floor to discussing the many challenges that parent’s had. We talked about how hard it was to keep our cool. Many parents emailed me their most pressing issues. One Dad asked, “I lose my cool when my child argues with me. How do I handle my argumentative child?”
Here are 3 simple ways to handle your argumentative child:
1. Don’t talk when you are angry:
If you have problems keeping your cool when your child argues with you then your best bet is not to say anything but, “I am going into the other room to cool down.” Then walk away. Some kids like to get a rise out of their parents and that is why they argue. Walking away, does not let them draw you into a fight which is what they want most. It is the best way to take the wind out of their sails. It also helps you maintain your dignity.
When you have calmed down you can say, “Now I am ready to talk. Can you tell me what you need in a respectful tone?” If he can’t then just repeat the above process.
It takes a while to train kids, but it can be done.
2. Answer a question with a question:
Many times children ask questions when they argue. They use this technique as a way to wiggle out of the limits parents set for them. They can say,
“Why can’t I play on the computer? Why do you have to be so strict?”
Questions sometimes are effective in getting parents to change their mind and retract the rules that they have set for their kids. Kids know it. They love a good debate and some kids can argue for hours, using questions ceaselessly. It can wear down the resistance of the most patient of parents.
The best way to handle this type of arguing is to reflect your child’s feelings and gently turn the question back to them:
You can say,
“It sounds like your annoyed with having to turn off the computer. Why do you think it is time to turn it off? What is it about computers that makes it a privilege not a right?
This technique is a soft way to let kids know you are going to stick to your rules that you have set. Most parenting experts have found that kids feel more safe and secure when parents are firm about their rules. Although kids will fight long and hard, they do not want to win the arguments that they have set in motion. When kids see that you mean business they will learn to stop fighting the family rules. They will learn that arguing does not work.
3.What did I say?:
This is similar to number 2. Children can’t argue with you if you do not engage.
If you say, “Time for bed!” and your child starts arguing: “I don’t want to go to bed!”
You can simply gently repeat as many times as necessary, “What did I say?” (This is a technique from Love and Logic)
Your child will start to understand that you mean business.(It might take a lot longer if your child is more independent).
For older children your conversation can go like this:
Child: “Can I go to the mall with Amy?”
Parent (giving information): “Kids who are twelve go to the mall with a parent.”
Child: “You never let me do anything… Why can’t I go… You treat me like a baby…”
Parent (gently): “What did I say?” (repeat as necessary)
Handling argumentative kids takes a strong parent. I hope this helps.
Check out our audios of the class for more great ideas!