Here’s a piece of parenting advice I often find myself giving to the parents I coach:
“Explain yourself once to your child and then move on.”
You usually can’t end an argument—or make a child do something—by trying to make them understand and agree with you.
The fact is, they don’t understand you. They’re going to see things differently. Children and adults have different perspectives. Parents can spend a lot of time and energy trying to make a child accept their logic. It’s just not going to happen.
This is a tough pill to swallow for parents. We all feel like things would be easier if only our children understood why we want them to do certain things. But most kids are not interested in the “why” and many are not even capable of understanding the “why.” And forcing the issue just makes it worse. Here’s what you can do instead.
When your child argues about a decision you’ve made or a limit you have set, listen to them. Tell them you admire them for sharing their opinions and fighting for their cause. But you don’t have to give in and you don’t have to keep explaining your reasons.
It can be very empowering to walk away from an unresolved argument. Different perspectives don’t have to be reconciled. It’s fine for your child to be unhappy or disappointed. And you don’t have to be drawn into an argument, it’s up to you to participate in an argument.
We all want to be understood, and we’re sure we can make others understand us if they would only listen. My advice is to take the time you would have spent arguing and instead spend a few minutes on self-care—go for a walk, read a book, give your mind a break from your child’s behavior.
Explain yourself once and move on. You’ll have a lot more energy as a result.
I really enjoy working through challenges like this with parents and watching them succeed at improving their child’s behavior. If you want to talk with me or one of my fellow parent coaches then definitely consider parent coaching and sign up for a phone session today. We would love to work with you.
Also, take a look at these resources for some more practical parenting advice:
1) Watch James Lehman Explain Effective Consequences
2) Do Your Kids Respect You? 9 Ways to Change Their Attitude
3) Disrespectful Child or Teen? 5 Things Not to Do as a Parent
Denise, Empowering Parents Coach
Challenging Parenting Issues: 5 of the Hardest Things Parents Face
Encouragement and Empowerment for Moms (With FREE Parenting Mantras!)
Denise Rowden is a parent of two adult children and has been a parenting coach since 2010. She has worked in Special Education, Alternative Education and adolescent group homes. She has a BS in Psychology from the University of Southern Maine and is currently working on her Life Coach certification from the International Coach Federation.
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I really need help (rather, my husband, our 14 year old daughter, and I do)!
It's difficult to know where to begin.
My husband and I are not on the same parenting page with our daughter. As a former teacher, I'm a big believer in structure. I think following a routine (homework, personal responsibilities) and established rules (with incentives and consequences) gives children and teens peace of mind and empowers them by working to accomplish goals. My daughter and I were extremely close until about almost two years ago. I understand the shift to try to become more independent is natural but believe limits must be set. My husband disagrees with me and has taken the role of the fun, popular parent. I am characterized by my husband and daughter as being overbearing, an overanxious worrywart, negative, critical... My husband doesn't think our daughter should have to do chores, have limits with her cell phone or social media. We disagree about nutrition (he's a junk food addict and scoffs at the meals I prepare; she has followed his lead). She has acne issues that bother her tremendously and is on prescribed topical skincare products but if I remind her to wash her hands, face, or make-up brushes, she and my husband become defensive, angry, and accuse me of being a nag. The same thing usually happens if I ask her to change her (pillowcase) bedding or use a clean wash cloth & towel when she takes a shower. I'm not trying to turn her into a germaphobe or make her feel self conscious or develop OCD, as my husband claims I am (in front of her). I just her to be healthy and practice good hygiene.
Many of her friends are sexually active, experiment with drinking (some smoke marijuana) and dress promiscuously. In the last year, she has started to dress in very tight, revealing clothes, has experimented with drinking, and has been frequently dishonest (ex. -about schoolwork, things she's not supposed to have/post of her phone, etc.).
I want her to be proud of her body but not dress inappropriately. It's so difficult to have a conversation with her about this because my husband takes her shopping and allows her to buy the revealing clothes. The battles (the two of them vs. me) are close to incessant - about her excessive social life (she is only in 8th grade), late curfews, no consequences, slacking on academics. I can't let this continue because what he allows is making her more and more self-entitled and allowing her to be in situations where she is at risk. He doesn't understand we need to instill rules that will guide her to learn privileges and trust are earned, not given. I'm worried for her future; that she won't have the tools she needs to be responsible, succeed, and be safe. I'm frightened she may end up in a relationship where she is disrespected because that's what she observes. We need help in becoming a closer, happier family with more peace, honesty, and love and way less stress.
We had the same situation with a fc, she was influenced by another child. She went to stay with another foster carer for two weeks. I did not see her at all in that time. However I emailed her and left lots of nice messages and simple 'hugs' and 'xx' and got some photos out to go over some good memories.
it worked and she demanded to come back.
I honestly do not agree. Respect is what you nurture in your child from day one. I have a 9 year old son. He is respectful to me and to all other he comes in contact with. I believe that a child must be taught values, ethics, and morals. These are in my opinion the basics of building an understanding of right and wrong. Or maybe I'm just naive and my surprise awaits.
This is what I feel today. This is not to sat that in his teen year I might encounter bad behavior. But I seriously doubt that. Time will be the judge of that.
I believe that parenting is a learning skill and one must provide to the child's development through interaction and diologue. Today parents are so busy that they do not spend valuable time in rearing the child. I believe an idisrespectful child is a product of less parenting. Being to busy is just an excuse.
We hear from parents often about
similar situations, so just know you are not alone in dealing with this type of
behavior. You are not going to be able to communicate with your daughter when
she is shouting and screeching. That is a time where you should be walking away
and removing yourself from the power struggle. During a calm time you can try
and talk to her again. If she starts to interrupt you and yell at you again,
you will have to walk away again. This will show her that you are not going to
get into a power struggle with her no matter how hard she tries. For more on
this check out the article by Sara Bean, https://us-mg5.mail.yahoo.com/neo/launch?.rand=c7d0muaqjtiag.
Thank you for writing in.
I hear you. It can be frustrating and exhausting when your
child always has to have the last word. Unfortunately, there really isn’t
anything you can do to make your daughter understand that you should have the
last word. As discussed in the above blog, you can’t solve an argument or end a
power struggle by making your child understand your perspective. Instead,
we would recommend focusing on what you do have control over – namely how you
respond to your daughter when she tries to pull you into an argument. For
example, if there are certain chores you want her to do, tell her what she
needs to do and then walk away. You could also link one of her privileges to
her getting those tasks done. You could say to her something like “When you’ve
completed your chores, I’ll turn your cell phone back on” or “I would like you
to load the dish washer, sweep the floor, and take out the trash. When those
things are complete, you can go on the computer”. It’s going to be important to
walk away after you’ve given her these directions. Don’t respond if she
talks back or tries todraw you into an argument.
Responding to these types of behaviors will only give them more power. You can
also check out the article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/backtalk-should-you-ignore-it/ for more tips on dealing with backtalk. I hope you
find this information useful. Good luck to you and your daughter moving
forward. Take care.
Stepmom Shawn i have also found that texting the "request" or information is very helpful, example: The cleaning people will be here tomorrow, THEY will need your room to be picked up by 10am. Thanks!
First of all, it takes the emotion on both sides out of the equation and it creates a record for those times when they say "you didn't tell me" or "I didn't know" that was the expectation. It works especially well with older teens that don't like the feeling of a parent telling them what to do.
You ask a great question!
Many times, kids will continue to ask questions and not let the parent walk
away as a way to control the situation, and continue the argument. In
these situations, I recommend ending your part of the interaction because it’s
something you can control. You cannot control your child or “make” them
stop asking questions; you can control, however, whether or not you
respond. You might find more useful information in our article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/sick-of-your-kids-backtalk-heres-how-to-stop-it/. Take care.
You ask a common
question that we frequently hear from parents. It’s not typically
effective to threaten punishments or try to make kids go to their rooms if they
continue to argue with you, or are upset by the limit you are setting.
What tends to happen is that this causes this situation to escalate even
more. In addition, you might also be inadvertently reinforcing this type
of whining/crying/bargaining response by giving it attention. Thus, as
advised in the blog above, I recommend walking away or otherwise disengaging
from your child after you have set this limit. You can find more on this
situation in our article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/how-to-walk-away-from-a-fight-with-your-child-why-its-harder-than-you-think/.
Thank you for writing in; take care.