We want our children to learn to speak and communicate. We want them to become independent thinkers. We also want them, someday, to stand on their own. Well, believe it or not, these are some of the key factors to explain why some children argue with their parents.

According to the Department of Families, arguments between brothers and sisters are one of the ways that children learn to respect other people's belongings and feelings. Children are just like adults. We like to present our ideas and sometimes argue to express our opinions or points of view. Children, however, are just beginning to learn how to argue without being disrespectful. Below are some pointers to help parents teach their child how to share their thoughts without offending others.

  • Do not argue with your child. It's that's simple. An argument can only occur if you let one occur.
  • Many arguments can be avoided when you give the child an option. For example: You can either empty the dishwasher or take out the trash.
  • Treat your child and yourself with respect. Be objective when you speak and try to use fewer words. For example: I need your help. Your job is to pick up your toys. Please begin now. Avoid statements or questions like: Can you or Do you want to pick up your toys now.
  • Teach your child the difference between debate and arguments. Debates allow two people to share their points of view without offending others and leaving one person a winner and another a loser. Arguments end with a winner and a loser. Teach your child what points of view or opinions are debatable in your home. If your child says, Mom, Im tired of doing dishes. The parent can respond by saying, That's fine. It's a good time to change chores. You may pick between feeding the dog or dusting this week.
  • Use simple body and facial language instead of words. Simple body and facial language includes: Looking at your child and show the face of patience. Your face should show that you are not angry, but you are also not amused.
  • Sit down with your child and let the child know the negative consequences that they will receive if they argue with a parent. Set the consequence ahead of time and stick to the consequence. It's appropriate to let children know that you do not want an argument as a warning before providing the consequence. Remember the first example provided above.
  • You may provide incentives. However, do not over use this strategy or you will be teaching the child that rewards come after each request. You may play with your friends when you are done doing the dishes.
  • Encourage and teach your child to ask for permission. This will prevent many arguments.
  • Prepare yourself for the fact that your child will be making more requests that may lead to future arguments. To find out if your child's request is normal for his or her age group, ask a teacher, youth group leader, coach or other adults who have many years of experience working with children to find out if their request is normal.
  • Let your child know that making a request should be done in private or at home. Some parents, for example, tell their child that if they ask to have a friend sleep over in front of the friend that their request will automatically be denied.

Note: Children who have chronic or ongoing behavioral problems and arguments that lead to anger, violence or other fear inducing tactics may need to be assessed by a trained professional. Usually these behaviors should be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or other medical professionals. You may also obtain assistance from a school psychologist who may provide some insights and resource information.

Related Content: How to Walk Away From a Fight With Your Child
Arguing With Your Child? Five Things You Shouldn’t Do

Empowering Parents Podcast:
Apple, Spotify


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.

Comments (4)
  • LMR
    I am so happy that I have opened this e-mail today. I have 3 kids the first was strongwilled but could be reasoned with. The second one was very defiant but has luckily outgrown much of her unacceptable behavior. The third one is young and has been very good butMore is reaching the age that the second had become difficult to deal with. You'd think by now that I would know how to handle him. Well I do for the most part but it sure helps to be reassured and reminded of other techniques that are always sure proof and to start them asap so he has no question as to what our expectations are of him Yay I am a step ahead of this one and thankful I happened upon this e-mail today. I also agree that Tony's sleepover request is brilliant.
  • Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor
    Scott, great post! I really like the tip about teaching kids the difference between a debate and an argument -- I'm going to start using that one today. Also, as Toni mentioned, the technique of not granting any requests asked in front of your child's friends. Brilliant!
  • Toni
    I too had/have the rule about requesting a sleepover or other activity with a friend in front of the friend. Making it a strict policy to NEVER grant such a request has a couple of benefits not pointed out above. If your child actually does NOT want to be involvedMore in the activity, but feels pressured to do so and doesn't want to take responsibility for telling his friends, "No, I don't want to go," then asking for permission in front of me gives him an easy out. He knows that I will deny permission and this gives him a way to avoid the activity without offending his friends. I'm happy to play the bad guy in this situation. This is esp. important for younger children. I wonder how many bad situations (for ex., with a younger girl who has an uneasy feeling around a friend's father on a sleepover) might be prevented by giving your child this "easy out."
  • jthobbs

    I've found that using these tips really helps. However, I also think it is all in the delivery. That is, if you're screaming at your child, they'll scream back.

    I love to watch the Dog Whisperer on National Geographic. what he teaches his clients and demonstrates to/for his clients is that they are to remain calm but be assertive. I no longer yell at my children. I calmly but assertively tell my children what my expectations are which includes the chore (homework, dishes, garbage, etc.) and when I want it done. Along with that I calmly tell them not only the consequences of not completing the chore but the reason why the chore needs to be done. Sometimes its only because it needs to be done. I avoid saying because I want it done or the famous "because I said so".

    In my mind, delivering anything to anyone in a calm and assertive manner shows and demands respect. When you have that respect, that is when you stop the arguing and get results.

    By the way, both parents need to give and gain that respect or the results will be intermittent.

Advertisement for Empowering Parents Total Transformation Online Package
Like What You're Reading?
Sign up for our newsletter and get immediate access to a FREE eBook, 5 Ways to Fix Disrespectful Behavior Now
We will not share your information with anyone. Terms of Use