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Let’s Not Argue

All parents and their children will argue at some point. Back talk, whining, begging and arguing are some of the most frustrating behaviors to deal with as parents. But like most negative behaviors the best defense is a good offense.

Learning to prepare ahead of time for arguments can be the simplest way to avoid them.

  • Learn that arguing with a child is fruitless – For instance, there is no point in trying to reason with a toddler. They are not developmentally capable of understanding reason or logic. Set firm limits and stick to them. Consistency is the key to eliminating arguing. If we ‘occasionally’ give in to begging and whining we can expect our children to ‘occasionally’ obey the rules. Inconsistency only encourages arguing behaviors to get worse.
  • Prepare your child ahead of time for situations that may provoke arguing – For example, tell him you will be going to the grocery store but there will be no extra treats today. However, he may take a favorite toy along to occupy himself.
  • Try role-playing situations where arguments have occurred – Oftentimes we are quick to teach our children what not to do but forget to teach them what we do expect.
  • Know your child’s limits, and work within them – If you know your child gets cranky and argumentative when she gets hungry or tired be sure to have healthy snacks available and plan your outings around nap time.
  • If your child begins to argue, repeat what you have said calmly and don’t engage – Pick a couple of phrases such as, “I know,” “Nice try”, or “Love you too much to argue,” and say them repeatedly as your child tries to pull you in. Watch your tone and try to come across as empathetic but not sarcastic.
  • Children will experience frustration when they see that their begging and tears are not working – But if you remain consistent, these episodes will become fewer and farther between.
  • Arguing takes a great deal of energy – Children have much more energy than we do and can keep a battle going for hours if they think they can win. By remaining calm and unaffected you conserve your energy for more important activities like having fun with your child.
  • As your child grows he will be able to reason and his words may become quite persuasive – Make up your mind about the issue and stick with your decision.
  • Teens can talk circles around parents – They practice debating and arguing with their friends all day long. However, there is no reason why you must explain every decision. Sometimes, “Because I am your parent and I said so” is good enough. However, if you have built a solid relationship based upon trust, these times are less likely to occur.
  • Above all else, set the example – If children see their parents arguing with one another and others also, they will surely act in the same manner. Be the person you want your child to grow up to be!
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