How to stop & win arguments with your kids.
By Susie E. Caron © 1/18/15
Do you often get caught in power struggles and arguments with your kids? Here is the way to stop and help you both win.
No one wins when you argue with kids. It’s impossible for lots of reasons, which I’ll explain below, but mainly, they want to win, so don’t compete. Maybe you cannot imagine how you could interact with your children without arguing about the particulars of their requests (or yours). Below I detail a simple strategy to stop arguments with your kids. Put it into practice and you and your kids will both be the winners.
Please understand that underneath 'winning', your children really want your attention. Most kids lack the skills to appropriately seek you out and verbalize, what they need and want. Besides, they begin any engagement with you, by expecting you to say ‘no’, or to ask them to do something they don’t want to do. While they want you to 'understand', what they really seek is you.
Kids feel a benefit when they argue with you for longer and longer. This is called secondary gain. Think about it, while they engage in arguments with you, they have your full and undivided attention. They ‘own’ you for that time period. So what can you do differently so you don’t get caught in the content of arguments with your kids? Here are steps that you can begin practicing right now that will help you and your kids toward better verbal engagements.
1. Notice the potential for argument - when they come to you with requests, or when you ask them to do something for you. You have to recognize the situation so you don’t get into the struggle. Then you can do #2-4.
2. If you are making the request, state it clearly beginning with “I want you to x,y,z.” (Don’t say “You need to…” kids hate that.) Ask the child to tell you what you requested. When they speak your instruction it helps them to hear you and puts them halfway to actually doing it.
3. If your child asks you for something that you will likely say ‘no’ to, respond to your child by saying “I want you to have this or that (or get to do that, etc.), however, …….” This is where you state clearly "it’s not possible (or going to happen) right now." You can include a simple reason if you wish, but don't continue to explain.
4. If and when the child begins to argue. Listen politely and don’t speak. When your child stops, to try to get you to talk, all you will do is validate the feelings. People can have all kinds of feelings. Kid’s feelings are okay too. It’s how they express those feelings that can upset you. So, do not argue about the content. This means that you don’t offer more reasons, or any kind of rebuttal. Instead you say something like, “I see that this upset (mad, sad, frustrated, etc.) you, but as I said, ….) then quietly and in a ‘matter of fact’ tone simply restate what you have already said.
5. If the child’s attitude & speech becomes rude, vulgar or disrespectful, stop the engagement and send them to cool off. (Kids really do feel horrible after getting disrespectful with you. It adversely affects their self-concept as well. So make sure to stop any disrespectful attitude or speech.)
6. After a cool off period, offer to talk again but only if the child will be respectful. A respectful conversation at a later time about the issue benefits you and the child. Revisiting the discussion in a respectful way teaches, self-control, respect for self and other, accepting there are different points of view, and possibly negotiation. But even here, you will mainly validate the feelings, but stay with your original statements.
As you practice these 6 steps you will find your kids will try more often to find polite ways to make their requests known. You will enjoy less arguing and will enjoy your time with your kids much more. Your kids will also enjoy being with you more as they develop respect for themselves and for you.
Please share this article with your favorite social media site and also let me know how you are doing with arguments and power struggles with your kids.
Twee' Means You & Me
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!