As parents we all want our children to grow up, have a unique voice, and become successful independent individuals. Parenting can be hard, one of the hardest jobs some of us ever experience. It can be even more frustrating when our children want to go into battle against us. This can mean anything from temper tantrums when they are tiny, to arguing with everything you say when they become a bit older. There could be reasons behind why your child is wanting to argue with you and some of them are completely normal.
Arguing can occur on many different levels. What they want to wear, what they want to eat, or if they want to go to a friend’s house. The thing to remember about an argument is it cannot happen unless you allow it to. The definition of argument is an exchange of differing views. That means an argument cannot happen if there is only one party willing to be in the discussion.
As the parent you still have control of not even allowing the argument to occur with your child if you simply state what you want done and then leave the room. If you can’t leave the room you can state what you want and if your child tries to argue you can tell them there is no room for negotiation on this point. When your child still doesn’t want to give up you can set punishments as you see fit. It might be more useful to set small in the moment punishments instead of big elaborate punishments. That way they know their actions that happened right then caused them to be punished.
It is normal for a child to want power. They look at the adults and think they have all the power, they get to make the bed times, make all the decisions and tell the children what to do and when. As your child starts growing up and becoming more independent they are going to have their own ideas and want everyone else around them to have the same ideas and beliefs as them. Whether they are right or not. Sometimes the point of an argument can just be to try and prove everyone else is wrong. Arguing can be an active sign of a power struggle or your child trying to express their own point of view. When your child starts arguing with you, you just need to be sure it’s constructive and not disrespectful.
Walking away may be the easiest way to diffuse an argument before it even starts. When speaking with an argumentative child it’s important to say what you want, when you want it done and what will happen if it isn’t completed. Don’t make what you say sound like they have a choice.
Instead of saying, “Could you please do the dishes.” Which sounds like you are requesting them to do the dishes if they so choose, you can rephrase and say, “Please do the dishes before you go play outside.” This gives them the task you expect to be done along with the timeline they are to complete it. If you have something that is non-negotiable then make that known when you speak with your child. “Please do the dishes before you go play outside, we aren’t negotiating this.” Older children will know what this means. In a younger child you could simply tell them you aren’t changing what you’ve said to be done. Make sure you make your statement clearly, firmly and leave no room for questioning.
We have to help our children learn there is a difference between having a difference of opinions and being rude. Also it is good to know the difference between a debate, which is when two people get to tell their sides of a point calmly and with respect to the other person’s side. Arguing is more disrespectful where you have no desire of hearing what others have to say.
It is ok for us to tell our children that we have a difference in opinions and leave it at that. Refuse to argue back with them. Arguing back sometimes shows them they can either make you mad which gives them power over your emotions, or that you might cave in if they keep up the argument. Refusing to argue can be as easy as walking out of the room.
Make sure your children know that sometimes it is not a good time to argue. If your child wants a friend to spend the night and they ask in front of the friend may not be the best time to have this discussion. Or they want a toy at the store and want to express loudly how they cannot believe you won’t buy them something. So set ground rules with your children and stick to them.
Discussions where your children are passionate about what they believe in shouldn’t be discouraged. When it is rude, and disrespectful about something you have asked them to do is when it becomes negative. Make sure you set some ground rules with your children when discussing things, and try not to give choices that you aren’t ok with.
If you want to make sure you children are bundled up because it is cold outside, give them an option of two jackets that work on keeping them warm instead of saying grab a jacket which leaves it up to them to pick out one that may or may not be acceptable in your eyes.
When something is non-negotiable, tell your child that, stay firm, state clearly what you are expecting and if they don’t follow through, set up some kind of punishment that you can stick to.
Raising our children to be independent thinkers is a great thing, and can lead to some arguments, just have a plan in place to how you are going to handle them when they arise.
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The thing to remember about an argument is it cannot happen unless you allow it to. The definition of argument is an exchange of differing views.
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