Learn the best way to manage the power struggle between family members and argumentative kids.
In true oldest-child fashion, my son mistakenly believes that his 10 years on earth have given him enough life experiences to know everything about everything.
If I told him the sky was blue, he would reply that it is more of a grayish-teal color today. When I ask him why he didn’t listen and put his shoes away, he will tell me the ten reasons he shouldn’t have to.
Although he is a naturally kind little boy, he has a very strong personality and he thinks his own opinion outweighs what I have to say.
I am proud that he is confident and independent, and I want him to exercise speaking his voice. However, I also want him to understand that there is an appropriate time to argue.
Basically, I want my child’s feelings to be heard, while minimizing the constant bickering and snarky comments. Is that too much to ask?
Learn how to Teach Kids About Conflict Resolution.
Fascinating Facts About Argumentative Children
It sometimes felt like my son scheduled time on his busy calendar to argue with me. The arguments felt random, and I had a hard time being a good leader for my kids when I honestly felt berated.
I decided to consult with parenting experts and learned that I was not the only one – I was actually surrounded by parents who felt the same.
Research shows parents have over 2,000 arguments per year with their children – more than half of these are about food and drink. If you feel that you argue daily at dinner time, you are not delusional.
This poll also showed that each spat lasts approximately 8 minutes.
When you do the math, parents spend an average of almost 300 hours a year arguing with kids- that amount of time comes out to 12 full days of feuding in a given year
We can’t expect children to be in good moods all of the time; however, we need them to understand how to respond to difficult situations and present their point of view with respect.
7 Ways to Cope with an Argumentative Child
Luckily, there are gentle parenting methods to make peace with your child instead of throwing a match on the already blazing fire.
1) Don’t even enter into the argument
Your first instinct is to show your kid that you mean business. However, taking a step into the figurative boxing match will not solve any arguments.
Avoid unproductive terms like “I told you so”, “That is wrong”, and “that doesn’t make sense”. These phrases are like a match to flames. A good role of thumb is to not use words that place blame. This leads me to the next tip.
A good debate (not an argument) can always occur between two calm people, but both have to be in the right mindset to actually openly talk.
For Calm Down Cards and Activities for Kids, click here.
2) Only use “I statement”
Encourage your family to talk in “I” messages.
An “I” statement is a powerful tool. It forces the speaker to express their own feelings, rather than placing blame on others. A good example of this is:
- “You” statement: You never listen to me
- “I” statement: I feel frustrated when I feel like I can’t express myself.
Since communication is a key quality in strong families, it is important to develop the conversation skills to effectively express your feelings and talk openly. When used properly, “I” statements lead to positive and efficient conversations instead of frustrated shouting.
3) No Really – ACTUALLY Listen
When you stay calm you set the tone and become a good role model for your child. When are you are in a conflict with someone, it is crucial that you must make time for active listening.
Often, in the heat of the moment, regretful things are said.
The best thing about listening is that it can slow down the conversation and put you in a better position to understand your kid’s emotional needs.
4) Throw out the Labels
It is important to never label young people as “bad” or label arguing as “bad behavior”.
Next time your child is arguing with you, make sure to avoid saying things like “you are being bad” or “stop acting naughty”. This can only upset your child or create a stigma in their mind that their own opinion is wrong.
Talk through these tips during a family meeting? Learn how to have effective and fun Family Meetings here.
Learn 10 Signs of a Spoiled or Ungrateful Teen and Child and how to fix it here.
5) Communicate Core family values
Having a predictable family life is crucial – especially for older kids. (Try adding Anchor Routines)
Develop and communicate clear ground rules and firm boundaries in your home.
- Is a daily family dinner important to you?
- Do you expect your child to participate in religious activities?
- Would you like screen-free family time each week?
Check out these 5 activities that close-knit families do together.
6) Give Choices
Instead of engaging in rude talk or turning a blind eye to an argumentative child, approach the situation with options.
A soft way to fight harsh words would be to reply: “You don’t want to put your shoes away? I need help so, you can either put your shoes away or you can do the dishes?”
Related: Age-appropriate Chores for Kids
7) Focus on your body language
Continual research shows that body language counts for a whopping 55 percent of what is absorbed while 38 percent is tone of voice. Only 7 percent is the actual words that are spoken.
Take a deep breath, check your tone of voice, and make these 3 quick adjustments to your body language before talking to your child.
Final thoughts on Parenting an Argumentative Child
As a general rule, at the end of the day you, the parent, have the final word.
It’s a good idea to encourage your child to talk about how they feel. Welcome a good debate and a respectable, healthy argument.
Next time your kid tries to challenge you to a verbal dual, use these simple tools to ease the tension and listen – while still controlling the situation.
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You may also like: Why is my Daughter so Moody?
If you feel like your child is struggling with more serious emotions or a possible condition, reach out to your health care provider right away.