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.
About Scott Wardell
Scott Wardell has been a school counselor and educator for 34 years. He is the creator of SteadyParent.com: a parenting website devoted to assisting parents searching for solutions that lead to positive parenting outcomes while raising child, teens and young adults.