Coach Advice: Explain Yourself Once and Move On

Posted January 13, 2016 by

Coach Advice: Explain Yourself Once and Move On

Here’s a piece of coaching advice I often find myself giving to parents: Explain yourself once to your child and then move on.

You can’t solve 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.

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.

“Keep in the forefront of your mind that even at times of high stress, no matter how obnoxious your child’s behavior, you must remain a calm, steady leader.” – Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC, Creator of The Calm Parent AM & PM

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.

We all want to be understood, and we’re sure we can make others understand if only they would listen. My advice is to take the time you would have spent arguing and instead spend a few minutes on self-care.

Explain yourself once and move on. You’ll have a lot more energy as a result.

I enjoy working through challenges like this with parents. Consider 1-on-1 Coaching for more advice, or share your experience with the Empowering Parents community below. We are here for you.

Best,

Darlene B., Empowering Parents Coach

About

Darlene Beaulieu is a parent to two teenage daughters, ages 13 and 16. She has been an Empowering Parents Coach since 2009 and has helped thousands of families in that time. She earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling and has worked in school and community settings helping children and families with academic, social, and behavioral issues.

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  1. StrugglingRush Report

    My daughter has went to her friends house for a few days because she “doesn’t want to be my daughter anymore”. Her friends mother is a retired attorney that cooks all day and she’s getting princess treatment. She says my daughter is really happy there. I need this time for self care but I have no idea when to have her come back home. Yesterday when she came home get a few things. She acted as though she was still upset with me and simply ignored me when I told her that I love her. This is beyond heartbreaking.

    Reply
  2. endofmytether Report

    My 13 year old constantly shouts she also interrupts me whenever I attempt to talk to her, how do I say my piece once and walk away when I know she hasn’t a clue what I have said as she was too busy screeching over what I was saying???

    Reply
    • dbeaulieu Report

      endofmytether 

      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.

      Reply
    • 40yearsamom Report

      She will need you for something eventually. I didn’t speak to my son for three days once because of this kind of behavior. When he came to ask me for something i just looked him in the eye, said nothing and continued with my business. He hated that and eventually apologized and begged me to talk to him again.

      Reply
  3. StrugglingRush Report

    Well my daughter decided she is leaving to go stay with a friend after getting caught lie in and taking back her phone that she’s grounded from while I was running errands. The mother aged to take her and I don’t know what else to do at this point but the mother does have 28 years experience in the juvenile court system. My daughter went to the bus stop with two bags and no plans on returning. I’m heartbroken but hopeful.

    Reply
  4. Carmen Report

    But what can I do when my 14 yo daughter do not do what I am asking for, I am a single mother and I am taking care of her since she was born. It is hard for me. When she was seven she said she was going to do always the opposite of what I will ask her. I applied the total transformation program at that age and worked pretty good but because she is gifted child she learned the program as well and she always find the way to break the rule. To answer me, and to have the last word. She said this morning why do I always have the reason and is not true, I don’t always have the reason but she is under my care and I am her mother and she has to do what I am asking her to do ( talking about her chores) other than that she is free to have her own thoughts, free of mind is something she has that I didn’t have. Still the is costing me my health. What else can I do to make her understand that whether she likes it or not I have the last word ? I am not a dictator I just set rules in my place, like if I don’t start making a list since I get inside my house there will be no place to sit or place to walk in there. Help!

    Reply
    • Empowering Parents Coach drowden Report

      Carmen Rita
      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.

      Reply
  5. joeydadof5 Report

    I have come to learn as a single dad of 5 wonderful boys that our “perspective” on issues and house rules will be so far from one another that I have come to be satisfied with them simply letting me re-emphasize the rule that they have broken and that they simply “get it” that there is a consequence awaiting them…i have tried deliberately not to argue because it feels to me like I am “reducing” myself from a father/mother role (since their mother left) to a fellow teen “peer” of theirs which puts me at an immediate disadvantage. I praise them for communicating their opinions/feelings and validate their “feelings” which bridges a gap between the 2 of our perspectives but I always leave the moment with them understanding I love them but the “consequence” is their’s to own

    Reply
  6. Stepmom Shawn Report

    What timing! I just got into “it” with my stepson last night over the state of his room. He, of course, did not agree with my reasoning for the need for him to keep his room neat and tidy, especially before our cleaning people come. I tried to explain that their job is to clean, not pick up his dirty clothes on the floor. I, unfortunately, kept trying to get him to understand where I was coming from. This did not go well, needless to say. The anger on both our parts began to escalate. I realized, later, that I need to make my case and then let it sit. I’m not sure why I feel the need to try to reason with him. So, reading this now really is perfect timing. It reinforces what I know I need to do next time. And I know there will be a next time… *sigh*.  🙂

    Reply
    • Momto5boys Report

      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.

      Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      lusmith 
      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.

      Reply
      • AdoptivMom Report

        A friend of mine once told me that when she has a child that doesn’t stop, she will tell them. ‘I love you too much to argue with you so I’m going to be quite now and walk away. If you need to asks more questions then we will have this conversation later’.

        Reply
  7. Frances Mo Report

    Good advice- I don’t often manage to think clearly like this, but when I have I feel proud of myself and it definitely works.  Last week my youngest son, my husband and I were to go to his school for a meeting, meaning that my husband would not be able to drive my 2nd son to his sports club for the usual time that suits him.  I said “We are going to have to leave the house at this time (an hour earlier than would have suited him!) so if you want a lift you can take your things and do homework or whatever at the centre”  NO WAY! was his aggressive and very predictable outburst.  He tried to provoke me into the usual banter back and forth.  I simply stated that it was either that time or he could walk.  Again more shouting and anger from him and without my return usual response, he stormed off to his room,  In fact, I said no more, got into the car at the time I arranged, and looked up to see stroppy man child rushing to the door with his school bag.  I struggled to hide my smile, but I did manage- I’m not that silly!  It was only a very small success in what has been months, more than a year, of difficult upsetting times.  I’ve a long way to go, but reading these articles really help me.  Thank you so much

    Reply
  8. Charlotte Report

    This was very informative. I am a mother of two girls ages 8 and 11. I do find myself repeating myself consistently to get my point across.

    Reply
  9. emilyandchad Report

    So once you explain yourself and walk away, what should you do if your child continues to whine/cry/beg/bargain/etc? Just let them fizzle out and ignore them until they do? No threats of punishment or sending them to their room, etc. if they don’t stop?

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      emilyandchad 
      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.

      Reply
    • StrugglingRush Report

      I am asking the same. What happens if they are still ranting and don’t do what you have asked if them? Then what?

      Reply
  10. Paula Report

    I have a 14 yr old goes to school when he wants comes home when he wants smokes marijuana I work 2-10pm and my husband works in different cities my aunt stays and takes care of the little one

    Reply
  11. nicholelbutler Report

    Thank you for this valuable information.  I often find myself arguing with my son’s and it becomes very frustrating for me and often just wares me out.  I’ve tried to say it once and walk away but it seems like they keep going and then I have to just keep explaining myself over and over!  I’m really very tired of it and the attitude that goes along with it!

    Reply

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