He’s going to be a lawyer,” my mother joked after my son argued for more screen time with several (let’s admit it) poor reasons why he deserved it. He just didn’t want to take “no” for an answer and frankly, it was wearing me out. If my mom hadn’t been there, I might’ve given in just to put an end to it. But this time, I held firm—and I’m glad I did.
Some kids like to argue. They like the attention they get from it or the fact that it bothers you. Whether it’s for a later bedtime or another cookie for dessert, arguing with your child can be exhausting. Like me, I’m sure you’ve longed for an answer on how to stop arguing with your child. So I’m happy to report that these 5 strategies have helped in our household.
1. Join in.
Last week, when my child’s argumentative antics got a little theatrical, I became theatrical back, sighing loudly, hands on hips, rolling my eyes. When he saw me mirror his own behavior, he found it ridiculous and started laughing. When he knew his arguing didn’t bother me anymore, he stopped. Let me clarify this point: I did not mock him or belittle him. I kept the mood light and my face unperturbed as I smiled and acted out his gestures. You know your child best. If he wouldn’t take it well, or he’s overtired, this might not be the best tactic. But if he’s rested and you know he’s just verbally harassing you for his own amusement, it might be worth a try.
2. Give her a choice.
Often, when I tell my child to do something, I want it done right then. But lo and behold, she resists. So, I’ve started giving her a choice of when she’d like to get it done. If I want her to take a shower, I might say, “If you take a shower before dinner, we’ll have time to play a board game or watch a TV show before bed. But if you wait to take your shower after dinner, there won’t be any time for fun. It’s your choice.” This puts the onus on her to decide. She knows she’ll have to take a shower, but if she wants to have some fun, she’ll need to get it done sooner than later. Many times, arguing with your child will stop right there.
3. Give her a choice, part two.
What if she doesn’t take a shower and still refuses after dinner? Then it’s time for another choice. “If you take a shower tonight, we’ll be able to play on the playground after school tomorrow with your friends. But if you don’t, we’ll have to come straight home after school so you can take a shower then. Your choice.” This strategy also works for dinner-time battles and homework struggles. Arguing with your child isn’t fun, but with some kids, it takes a little more work and another set of choices to stop the haranguing.
Arguing with your child isn’t fun, but with some kids, it takes a little more work and another set of choices to stop the haranguing.
4. Give a compliment or reminder of past successes.
If my kid is being defiant and we’ve started a power struggle, one of the best ways to disarm him is to give him a compliment. He won’t expect it, and it might change his feelings toward me and the situation in that moment. For example, if my child doesn’t want to practice his piano, I might say, “Your last lesson sounded great. You really impressed your teacher.” Or I could keep things short and sweet: “You’re a hard worker. I know you can docompliments for kids it.”
5. Offer up a prayer.
When my sister and I fought as kids in the back seat of my mom’s car, she’d sometimes burst out with “God give me strength!” It would immediately silence us because we knew when she needed God’s help, we were pushing her too hard. These days, when I feel my anger welling up because I’m getting nowhere with my child, I too offer up a prayer. Unlike my mom, I try not to shout my prayer, but instead calmly ask for God’s help aloud, so my child can hear. Then, after a deep breath or two, I’ll try again with the situation at hand. Then we can move forward from there.
Have you tried any tactics that work well with a child who likes to argue?
ASK YOUR CHILD…
How do you feel when you argue with someone?