Arguing and Back Talk

By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of "Perfect Parenting" and "Kid Cooperation"
Situation: I know my kid’s going to grow up to be a lawyer! He argues whenever he’s asked to do something. He debates his rights when he’s asked to stop doing something. He pleads his case when I tell him he can’t do something. He disputes every rule we create. How can I put an end to this?

Think about it: It takes two to argue. Your child cannot “argue” by himself. That’s called “mumbling.”

Solution #1: Practice stating your case, then being quiet. Ignore your child’s argumentative comments, and walk away if you must. Let your child get used to your word being “final.”

Solution #2: As long as it’s respectful, sometimes let your child have the last word. Often a statement, such as, “Why do I have to do it?” doesn’t require an answer, nor deserve one. Often, a child’s mutterings really mean, “I’ll do it ‘cus I have to, but I don’t like it.”

Solution #3: Some children really do enjoy debating an issue. If your child is like this, set ground rules for when and how issues can be debated. For instance: no raising of voices, no name calling, quiet listening to the other person’s point of view. This behavior provides excellent practice for learning how to negotiate in life. In addition, your child must understand that some things cannot be argued, that there are some things the parents must decide. Have a standard reply for when an issue cannot be debated, such as, “This is not open for discussion.”

Solution #4: Get in the habit of offering your child choices, instead of issuing commands. Children who are argumentative will have less opportunity to practice the skill if you offer a choice. For example, instead of saying, “Do your homework, right now,” offer a choice, such as, “What would you like to do first, your homework or the dishes?” (If the response is, “neither,” you can smile sweetly and say, “That wasn’t one of the choices. Homework or dishes?”)

About the Author
Elizabeth Pantley is the author of several books, including "Kid Cooperation" (with introduction by William Sears, MD) and of "Perfect Parenting", and is also president of Better Beginnings, Inc. A regular radio show guest, and has been quoted in Parents, Parenting, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, American Baby, Working Mother, and Woman's Day magazines. This article was excerpted from "Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips" by Elizabeth Pantley, with permission from NTC/Contemporary Publishing, copyright © 1999.

To learn more about the author and her book click on the following links!

Elizabeth Pantley

"Perfect Parenting, The Dictionary of 1,000 Parenting Tips"

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