How to Stay In Control: Let Your Kid Have The Last Word

Posted February 26, 2016 by

How to Stay In Control: Let Your Kid Have The Last Word

Ending a heated conversation with your child can be tricky. The next time you are in this situation, ask yourself:

Have I made my point? What would happen if I ended the conversation and walked away?

Kids are masters at keeping an argument going. Walking away from the discussion and letting them have the last word is hard to do!

Here’s why you might consider ending the argument.

When you end the argument and walk away, you are sending a clear message that this discussion is over and continuing to argue isn’t going to change the rules. You take the power with you when you go.

There is a very strong natural instinct to keep responding to your child when he is arguing with you. But if you’ve reached a place where you believe you have made your point and there is nothing else to discuss, consider ending the conversation there.

If you decide to do this, try saying something like, “I don’t want to argue anymore. Let’s talk about this later when we’re both calm.” If your child keeps arguing, you can choose to show him that the conversation is over by not responding after you’ve set that limit.

For more tools on how to walk away from an argument, this article by Janet Lehman is a great resource: Why You Can’t Really “Win” an Argument with Your Child.

Letting your kids have the last word can be a great way of disconnecting from a power struggle. It takes some practice, though! If you choose to give this a try, let us know how it works for you!

 

About

Rebecca Wolfenden is a loving Momma to her son and a dedicated 1-on-1 Coach. She earned her degree in Social Work from West Virginia University and has been with Empowering Parents since 2011. Rebecca has experience working with children and families in home settings and schools, and has extensive practice working with people of all ages who have survived significant emotional and physical trauma.

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  1. Kimstricker Report

    This has been the advice we ever received from EP.  You do not have to attend every argument you are invited to.  Life changing.  Walk away.  It also teaches your child to walk away…eventually.

    Reply
  2. Kim Report

    Whenever I do this with my 15yo son, he takes on a belligerent tone and says, “You always tell me not to walk away, Mom. See what you’re teaching me!” I try explaining that the conversation is over, but he doesn’t think it’s over until HE says it is. I’m totally discouraged and exhausted from fighting every single battle of every single thing every day
    . He’s so manipulative. 🙁

    Reply
  3. Heather Report

    I’ve tried this with my 13 year old and it has worked.  It’s better than arguing about who has the last word.  I used to think i had to have the last word to let him know I was in authority, yet i realized that I already am in authority and he will live by my rules or have consequences, so if he gets the last word, it really doesn’t make a difference.
    I’ve also learned to set boundaries, for example name calling is not okay in my house and I am now very consistent in letting him know it is not okay to call me names.
    I think constant consistency may work even better than harsher punishments.
    I’ve also learned if I don’t freak out over small things, they take my freak outs more seriously if it’s over F’s and D’s for example. Heather

    Reply
  4. Darla Report

    I have been using this technique for about 6 months now with both my 13 year old and my 8 year old sons and it has gotten consistently easier and more effective over time. At first I would say, “I have listened to what you have to say but I have not changed my expectations. I am going to stop responding right now about this subject but you may bring it up again after an hour if you have something new to add.” I would have to leave the room in order to avoid being badgered back into the conversation. Now I just say, “Okay, we have each had our say and we need to end this discussion now because it is no longer productive.” Often now they get their last word in and then stop arguing and we move on to talking about something else. I do still always honor a request to talk about the subject again later if requested even though it usually leads to the same conclusion as the first time.

    Reply
  5. rwolfenden Report

    Melissa Monclova 
    I’m so sorry to
    hear about the injuries both you and your fiancée have sustained as a result of
    your son’s actions.  There is no excuse for abuse, even from your son, and
    you have the right to be safe in your home.  At this point, it could be
    useful to develop a plan for how you can respond, and keep everyone safe, if
    your son decides to become violent again toward your fiancée, you, or anyone
    else in your home.  For help developing this plan, you might want to
    review https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/signs-of-parental-abuse-what-to-do-when-your-child-or-teen-hits-you/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/when-kids-get-violent-theres-no-excuse-for-abuse/.  Please be sure to
    check back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. 
    Take care.

    Reply
  6. olgakhumlo Report

    My son is very rebellious, refuses to attend college, to study and keeps company with guys who disturb him even on his exm days. All I can do is only pray. I’m exhausted. olga

    Reply
    • momincontrol Report

      olgakhumlo My son is attending college in a far away state and has a car.  We pay the insurance.  We were about  to stop paying his car insurance because he wouldn’t follow our rules.  He was a passenger in his room mates car, when a truck hit them on the passenger side.  My son suffered a concussion and now follows all automobile safety  rules.   Sometimes that’s what it takes, but we would have stopped paying the insurance.

      Reply
    • momincontrol Report

      olgakhumlo If he’s living under your roof, tell him he has to  live by your rules.  If he  won’t go to college (you cant ‘ make him) then he has to get a job and pay you rent.  If he continues to break the rules, tell him he has to make arrangements to live somewhere else.  If he won’t make arrangements to live somewhere else, show him where the nearest homeless shelter is, and tell him he has to go there and give him  a date.

      My son would not follow our rules about his cell phone use. We told him he would have to pay for his own cell phone if he did not adhere to our rules We gave him plenty of  warning and time to make adjustments. He would not make the necessary adjustments so he  is now paying for his personal cell phone.   He did not like it when we terminated him from our contract.  He’s 19 and put up a big argument about it but we stuck to what we said we would do  and it has worked beautifully. I don’t concern myself with his phone habits, I dont’ get charged extra every month for his purchases, and I’m sure since he’s now paying for it, he more aware of his expenditures.

      Reply
  7. Lee2016 Report

    I have the done the walk away for awhile now, so now my 13 yr old walks away from me while I’m speaking. ” You do it to me Mom”

    Reply
    • momincontrol Report

      Lee2016 Mine walk away from me too saying the same thing.  It all depends on what I’m saying when they walk away, but mostly it doesn’t bother me and I let them walk away and there is no argument.  If it’s important enough, I finish what I was saying at a later time when they are receptive.

      Reply
  8. pullingouthair Report

    That’s exactly my problem- he follows me!. I have had to lock myself in the bathroom and listen to him outside the door. I’m listening- any ideas? 
    My child too has ADHD and is on the immature side. 13 year old boy.

    Reply
  9. twobeandream Report

    Thank you for your article!  We have a 13 year old son who argues EVERYTHING!  He even argues that he’s not arguing with us, when he is!! So, I have tried the tactic you mentioned of walking away with a ” I am done discussing this right now ” , or something to that effect.  He will continue on, “Mom, I need you to talk to me, Mom, I just need you to hear me, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom…” AGH!!! I am ready to lose it at this point.  Bear in mind, I HAD listened to him, I HAD engaged in dialogue with him, but it was going nowhere and for my sanity, I had to end the conversation.  So, any ideas when the 13 year old, follows you around the house with a nagging, “Mom, Mom, Mom,”.  (If you are picturing a toddler following you around with that nagging voice…. well, he’s obviously not a toddler, but also, isn’t as mature as most of his peers.  His ADHD doesn’t help the situation either, but isn’t an excuse.
    Any ideas are appreciated – I’m all ears!

    Reply
    • ThevTerrell house Report

      Omg my 14yr old daughter is ALL THAT TOO! I never can assume the mood we will awake to each morning either! Im enjoying reading all these blogs. My daughter argues daily and will argue that she is not yelling or arguing. sometimes what has worked….i will text her while at school warning her….that so and so will happen when i pick her up from school and that she needs to reply to this text so i know she understands! Example…taking a freeking shower when we get home because of plans later OR im taking her phone away OR yes she can go hm with a friend BUT im picking u up BY whatever time….and u better not argue etc…then we still might argue but it depends but at least its not as long or bad….uuugggg

      Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      twobeandream 
      It can be
      incredibly frustrating when you try to stop an argument with your child, and he
      wants to continue.  It’s actually quite common for kids to do this,
      because when you stop talking and walk away, you are taking the power of the
      interaction with you.  As long as your son can keep you engaged, he is in
      control.  If he is used to being able to draw you back into the
      conversation if he keeps trying long enough, it’s likely that he will continue
      this behavior.  We have some different strategies you can use to change
      this pattern with your son in 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
      • olgakhumlo Report

        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport twobeandream My son is very rebellious, refuses to attend college, to study and keeps company with guys who disturb him even on his exm days. All I can do is only pray. I’m exhausted.

        Reply
      • twobeandream Report

        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport twobeandream Thank you Rebecca, I will look into your suggestion and thank you!

        Reply
    • momincontrol Report

      twobeandream Put him on the  clock.  Tell him he has 1 minute.  Let him talk. Listen intently.  When the minute is over, respond or leave. If he doesnt’ stop, tell him you will take his phone or whatever is important to him until he stops the behavior.  My ADHD son is 19.  I like this method because it involves time.  He wasnt good at gauging time.   When I spoke to him for a short time, he would describe the time  as an hour.  This method is good for allowing him to experience exactly what a minute is and what can be  accomplished in that amount of time.

      Reply
    • AlaineA Report

      Have you triedactive listening where you listen then say it back make sure its right then go ” ok I’ve listened to you but my decission still stands and im not talking about this anymore”. Or something to that effect. Then he can hear that you have listened and the only argument he has then is your decission. Set clear boundries if he still chooses to argue turn off the wifi or set his bedtime 5 mins earlier everytime her tries to draw you into the conflict cycle

      Reply
  10. beth_life_ Report

    Kids that argue often learn the behavior from the adults around them so monitor your own behavior. Remember to praise, praise, praise, anytime this child doesn’t argue and without announcing why, do something fun & rewarding with him/her immediately. Mid-fun, say “isn’t this better than arguing about …”. Another thing that worked for me as a mom and high school teacher, set a time to revisit the subject (give it a few hours or even overnight) and go through some pros and cons (about 3 of each), this helps them problem-solve and draw conclusions (a skill they can use forever). And remember that sometimes you need to remove yourself from the area … trying to send them away can just start another battle.

    Reply
  11. Melissa Monclova Report

    I have two teen that are verbally abusive. Don’t do homework nor class work. One is grounded and won’t give me his phone. If I try he’ll probabably hit me again. I have turned his phone service off. Both boys are very disrespectful to my fiancé and rude two his daughter. It’s a powers struggle every day. Help me if there something someone knows better than I do . Thanks

    Reply
    • ThevTerrell house Report

      My teen daughter also is sooooo disrespectful to my finacee and his 7yr old daughter when she visits. He has never seen this behavior before….but how could he? My 10th grade daughter is opposite of course! Uuuggggg. I let my fiancé just walk away or ignore….let me handle it BUT she is GOOD most the time when he wakes her in the morning and im out of the picture whats up with that??? Its just a daily battle that im used to. We all just keep WAITING for her to grow put of this very immature state! She is def also ADHD! Meds just help the lack of focus not really the behavior! Maybe covers it 15% lol not enough!

      Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      Melissa Monclova 
      I’m so sorry to hear about the challenges you are
      experiencing with your children.  It’s hard enough when your children
      mistreat and disrespect you; it’s even harder to witness them mistreating
      others in the house and feeling powerless to stop it.  We have numerous
      articles and resources here on Empowering Parents that can help you to change
      this pattern of disrespect, abuse, and power struggles.  Here are some
      which might be helpful for you to start with: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/in-over-your-head-how-to-improve-your-childs-behavior-and-regain-control-as-a-parent/ and https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/when-kids-get-ugly-how-to-stop-threats-and-verbal-abuse-part-2/.  I
      recognize how difficult this must be for you.  Please let us know if you
      have any additional questions.

      Reply
  12. Grand mom of 2 Report

    Our soon to be 4 yr old granddaughter lives with my husband myself and her mom. I watch my Grandaughter while her mom works. She has been hitting her mom as well as others, acting out and crying when corrected. She hits her mother very hard and says don’t look at me. Please help, any suggestions. Thank you

    Reply
    • rwolfenden Report

      Grand mom of 2
      It can be very
      challenging when a young child is acting out aggressively toward others, and
      it’s normal to worry when you see this type of behavior.  Something to
      keep in mind is that it’s quite common for kids your granddaughter’s age to
      cry, scream and hit others when they are upset.  This is mainly due to the
      fact that young children tend to have a low frustration tolerance, and few
      appropriate coping skills to use in those moments.  This is not to say
      that you cannot address or change this behavior, however.  Dr. Joan Simeo
      Munson gives some great tips you can try in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/hitting-biting-and-kicking-how-to-stop-aggressive-behavior-in-young-children/. 
      Thank you for writing in; take care.

      Reply
    • MommySaisLove Report

      Be more interested in her feelings and situations and less reactive to them and give it time till she can C that you R honestly trustworthy and then once you notice she is feeling more free to be herself or just playing more contently then you can ask better questions that should shed some light on this situation. Just be aware that how you ask questions is just as telling as how you respond to behaviour with children. They see more clearly than most people will have seen (or will see most probably) . Not all wise but all seeing.

      Reply
    • MommySaisLove Report

      If your tone and manner accomplishes non-judgmental status with your grandchild. you could get to the bottom of what’s going on in her life that is causing the spike in fear, aggression and fearing to be seen.
      Children are just like us. Maybe even more honestly us. They need to be able to trust someone who will have their best interests at heart and who treats them as equally important and okay as we adults are.

      Reply
  13. mgirl1129 Report

    What about the child who follows you and tries to continue the argument? I am a nanny to a five year old boy who LOVES to argue over anything and everything and he is a master at it!!

    Reply
    • MommySaisLove Report

      Find out why he feels the need to win the argument. I have asked my son why he continues to argue and come upon the realization that he was fearful of what losing the argument would mean. Allow the child to speak while you listen for clues about what the child is trying to keep or have or control or what they want or why they want it and if its a matter of a lack of discipline then create that discipline that is necessary for that child’s success later in life if you are not in this position to give such instruction then speak with parents about what you see in their child’s behavior in a calm collected intelligent manner so that they have the best chance of helping this child. Too often people think it is okay to fly off the handle at children because they view them as below that are stature when the truth is they have less self control then the children they watch. I’m not saying this is you. I am simply saying that when you watch children a lot when you hang on to them for their parents for money or because you like being around children eventually you could get exhausted since you may not have the ability to correct bad behavior the way you would like or the parents have unreasonable expectations. And stress is a mind killer. Good luck 🙂

      Reply
    • Linda Report

      I use the walk away technique often. I usually end it by saying that I’ve already stated the rules, arguing is not going to change my decision or the discussion is over and I’m going to my room. When she follows me, I tell her this is my space and I want to be alone and close my door. After about five minutes she stops fussing and leaves.

      Reply
    • momincontrol Report

      firefly1971 Ignore the 5 year old who  follows you around and tries to continue the argument.  Even if it takes 45 minutes.  Completely ignore him.  Conditions need food and  fuel to  thrive.  Discontinue the fuel and it dies.

      When emotions are high and out of control, it is impossible to reason with anyone especially a 4 year old child.  Wait until the child is calm to address the behavior.  If she wont ‘ stop hitting, take her to a room and shut the door until she’s finished.  Don’t scream, yell, plead, hit back etc.  Stay calm and she will become calm.  

      We started letting our 19 year old and 15 year have the last word 3 to 5 years ago.  It is wonderful.   It stops conflict in it’s tracks.  Peace and calm  is restored quickly.  Then logic and reason can be used as  the standard for communication.   Works every time and they don’t feel powerless.

      Reply

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