You're the Boss – Act Like It
Children, as a group, are argumentative. Its one of their universal traits and it is inspired by many different forces in their lives. There are times when the only control a child has is the ability to carry on an argument. There are times when a child uses arguing as a weapon against their parents or siblings. There are times when a child simply cannot seem to help arguing—even if they do not want to.
As a parent you will encounter these and many other motivations for your child’s tendency to argue. Unfortunately for your child, none of them will change the fact that they are the child and you are the parent. Though it may seem hard to both of you, the authority is yours and you cannot allow their argumentative behavior to change that fact.
There are a number of tried and true methods that will allow you to handle arguments with your child without ceding your authority. The first skill you need to have is the simple ability not to be drawn into anything emotionally. Do not allow your child’s anger to affect you or deter you from your purpose. Instead, you should refuse to be drawn into the argument at all, if you can. This is best done by either heading off the argument in the first place or ending the discussion entirely. For example, arguments with children who seek to have some sort of control over their choices can be avoided by offering them the choice they desire whereas children who argue to irritate their parents are best left unengaged.
No matter what choice you make however, the most important part of the process is reassuring the child that though you may not love their behavior, you still love them. Your child needs to know that your love for them is completely unconditional whether they argue or not.
Is There Ever a Reason to Indulge Arguing?
The answer to this question depends on the kind of arguing that you and your child are doing. A healthy form of argumentation allows you and your child a chance to connect and communicate, even over a disagreement. This is a valuable skill to have in your toolbox, because it encourages your child to be open and honest with you. It may also help you teach them to construct a proper argument, one they can hope to win.
There are ways to argue and discuss family issues reasonably and respectfully. You can do this by holding onto your own temper and keeping the tenor of the discussion to the issue at hand rather than allowing it to wander to dangerous territories. Techniques like active listening can help with this type of discussion, proving that though you are opposing their viewpoint, you still hear and respect their complaint. This may even allow you and your child to come to a compromise, depending on the issue. On the other hand, if your child cannot control their emotions well enough to engage in this kind of rational discussion, you may need to simply refuse to continue and declare the matter closed.
You might also find the following helpful:
Age-Appropriate Manners and Lessons
Parent's Survival Guide to Puberty
Bullying in Schools
Giving More Attention
Cleaning Their Rooms