If you missed Part 1, you'll want to go back and grab the four practical tips to use today.
NOW let's dive deeper into the topic of arguing. Get ready for some deep thinking and self-reflection, parents!
First, consider: “What’s normal and necessary for my child’s age?”
All kids go through stages of challenging, at times obnoxious behavior (think throwing food onto the floor just to watch you pick it up, having day-long crushes on the opposite sex, or loving blue hair dye).
Ask parents of your child’s friends if they’re struggling with this issue also. You’re probably not the only one facing daily back-talk.
Then ask yourself: is there a good reason why my child is arguing (developmentally speaking)?
You may find the answer in my upcoming blog on “Quick Parenting Tips for All Ages and Stages.”
I’ll explain a little bit about how child development applies here…
You'll see your child starting to intentionally break rules in the toddler years. This early “defiance” helps them build independence. The arguing typically starts once kids hit school.
When school starts, friends become super important. Your child must begin to assert themselves in order to find a place in their peer group. School-age kids naturally begin to have bigger opinions as they understand more about the world and how it works. If you can work to tweak the way your child argues (instead of trying to squash it completely), they can learn how to express themselves in a healthy way!
Here’s the upside of children arguing:
- Arguing can help children learn how to appropriately stand up for themselves!
- It can boost self-esteem and self-efficacy when a child’s point is heard.
- Children can learn that their feelings matter to others. Self-esteem comes along.
Let’s think about your child as a unique, little human being.
Your child has his/her own personality, strengths and weaknesses. Some kids come with a larger dose of spunk than others. And that is a beautiful thing. (If you have more than one child, you especially know what I’m talking about…)
Maybe in your head you view your child as disrespectful, defiant, difficult, or ungrateful…especially when they argue about eating their dinner or cleaning their room.
Remember that you love your child.
Your child needs to be loved at their best and worst times, just like you want to be loved by your significant other (or your own parents) in good times and bad.
More than anything you want a close, loving relationship with your child. You want your child to come to you with his/her feelings, questions, and worries rather than avoiding or rebelling against you. Maybe you can consider negotiating with your child on the small issues (which shoes to wear)…you may begin to see less arguing on the big ones (like homework).
Recognize the difference between cooperation and obedience.
Children cooperate when they feel respected and somewhat understand the reasons for a rule or expectation. Kids cooperate because they want to. Children obey when they are afraid of consequences. Kids obey because they have to. Which means the minute you turn your back or stop nagging, they’re back at it.
Think now about the NUMBER ONE recurring argument you have with your child.
The next time you’re together and things are calm, open a conversation about the issue. Offer to answer any questions they have and genuinely ask about and listen to their concerns. You don’t need to change your mind about the rule, just know that listening and talking enhances your relationship with your child.
Stronger relationship=more cooperation.
Avoid the power struggle!
Your child wants to assert their control; they may be starting a battle just to win.
This may be a healthy stage for them (re-read about developmental stages above).
BUT if you engage in the argument and perpetuate the power struggle, you’re accomplishing nothing other than participating in a silly battle with a child. To outsmart your child, you have to be the bigger, stronger, wiser parent who can stay in control of your own emotions and behavior.
Part 3 of this mini blog series will give you THE EXACT STEPS to take when your child starts to argue.
And remember, therapy may help you and your child if you're stuck and struggling! I can help you decide whether or not it's time to seek professional help.
Schedule your free 15-minute consultation here.