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
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.
Darlene B., Empowering Parents Coach
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.