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Dealing with argumentative children

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Dealing with argumentative children - you can choose the hard way or the easy way.

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By nature argumentative children are, well, argumentative. Some kids seem to be born with a temperament that puts them into this category; others appear to grow into it for no discernable reason.

The bottom line is that if you are their parent, you need to learn how to deal with argumentative children.

Let's continue our discussion of this type of disrespect in children.

The easy way of dealing with argumentative children.

  • Don't argue back.

Disrespectful children are looking to get a reaction out of you so don't give it to them.

Easier said than done, you say? Well, sure, but if it was easy you would have already figured it out, right?

Changing your behavior means changing your mindset. So let's start there:

Dealing with argumentative kids effectively means understanding that your job as parent is to stay in control and maintain leadership in the family.

In practical terms, this means:

thinking ahead about what you will say when your child becomes argumentative. Do a a little role playing with yourself. You know what sets your child off so use that knowledge to plan some phrases that keep you out of the argument. For example, you could say

"We've covered that topic. Done."

"You know the rules. They're posted on the wall if you need a refresher."

"I am willing to negotiate when you are in the position to earn a privilege. You have broken the rules. No negotiation. End of conversation."

  • Next thing to walk away.


Need more ideas? Take a look at this practical article for parents who yell (and we all do sometimes). Tired of Yelling at Your Child? Stop Screaming and Start Parenting Effectively

Let's cover this more in the next section...

How to handle argumentative children - the hard way.

Sometimes it helps to flip a thing on its head. What's the easiest way to keep a argumentative child fussing at you?

Keep responding to him.

In an argument, every time your child has something to say,



Insist on having the last word.

Now, you may mistakenly think that having the last word means asserting your authority.

I've fallen for this trap myself in dealing with my own argumentative children. But on careful examination of the facts, I've discovered my own faulty logic.

The true authority in a situation is the one who maintains control. The person who keeps his head on straight and doesn't give way to the emotions of the moment. The person who remembers the rules and the values of the household and sticks to them.

That's called self-control and your disrespectful child is revealing she has none at that moment when she is arguing with you.


How to deal with argumentative children? Let's sum up...

  1. Make a decision ahead of time to stay in control.
  2. Do a bit of advance role-playing so that you are prepared with simple statements designed to convey to your arguing child that you are in control and the argument is finished.
  3. Make your statement - calmly!
  4. Walk away.
  5. Practice as necessary. (Your child will probably provide you with opportunities for this last one. You can even thank them. I know that always drives my kids crazy - and provides some much-needed humor, too.)

Parents of argumentative children - or disrespectful children of any type - sometimes bring this up and let it derail them.

"But what if my child has a legitimate question? I cannot simple walk away when he needs instruction or correction, can I?"

Your child is hoping you are asking this question. This is EXACTLY the tactic an argumentative child has in mind when he begins an argument.

He's hoping to play upon your sympathy. Your sense of responsibility as a parent. And your cozy thoughts of him as younger and more innocent than he really is.

In other words, your child is manipulating you. Yes, I said the 'M' word. Hey, I've got four kids, I've been manipulated and watched manipulation attempts literally more times than I can count. If you keep falling for this trap, you give the arguments life.

In truth, and you know this in your head and heart, when your child needs honest instruction, the conversation looks different. And children hide when they realize they need correction. They rarely come looking for it. That's just human nature.

The bottom line? There are other, more appropriate and more productive times to be instructing and correcting your child than in the middle of an argument. If you are not taking advantage of the calm moments in your child's life to do teaching and parenting, then that's a separate issue.

If you're having difficulty handling your arguing child and you want to know what parenting program I can recommend, that would be The Total Transformation program, hands down.

Does Total Transformation work? In my understanding, it has a good chance of improving many family situations IF a parent works it diligently. Part of why this particular program has a measure of success is because it supports parents extremely well. I simply cannot overestimate how important I have found it is to get trusted support while parenting!

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