How to Decrease Arguments With Your Children and Teens

How to Decrease Arguments With Your Children and Teens

How to Decrease Arguments With Your Children and Teens 612 408 Dr. Terry

Stop the Power Struggles: How to Decrease Arguments With Your Children and Teens

Do you remember the first time your child negotiated with you? You were probably amused with them acting and speaking like an adult. The second time? Third? Sure, those were moments that made you proud thinking about how smart your little attorney was. After all, children are accustomed to expressing their opinions. They are learning how to be persistent, determined, and less susceptible to peer pressure- all skills you want them to build. But when it comes to strong-willed kids, their stubbornness can lead to intense emotional outbursts- for them and you. So how do you decrease arguments with your children?

Your child may be at a phase where he/she argues about anything and everything, doesn’t respond well when corrected, and even behaves rudely. The constant power struggles with your child can be stressful for both of you. This can also set the tone of your relationship in the future if not handled well. Here are some ways to help you teach your child how they can respectfully share their thoughts and manage their tempers.

Keep your cool in times of stress

Keeping yourself calm as a parent is an effective way to calm your child. Of course, this is easier said than done. It can be downright frustrating to deal with a child who doesn’t like to give up or even compromise. But, it’s during these times that you need your patience the most. You’ll only engage in an epic shouting battle with your child if you let your temper get the best of you. Remember, the behaviors you model influence your child and how they will respond in the future. If you notice your emotions rising, it’s time to step away, take a deep breath, and collect your thoughts so you don’t say or do something you end up regretting. Talk with your child only when both of you have cooled down. Being calm when your child is not will definitely help you decrease arguments with your children.

Listen and talk calmly with your child

Try to figure out the reason(s) why your child argues with you aggressively. Maybe they want to be heard or taken seriously but don’t know how to express that in a better way. So, listen patiently to your child to determine what they are upset about. Ask questions or rephrase what they are saying to ensure you understand what they are trying to say. Get to the root of the problem and try to work together to discuss and solve it. Your child is entitled to their thoughts and feelings. But, make it clear that these are not an excuse to be disrespectful and even violent. If you ignore their disrespect, it’s as if you’re allowing your child to behave in such a way. 

Provide options and non-negotiables 

Give your child an option to avoid arguments. A choice can keep your child from feeling like they must always follow what you say and never have to disagree. This will also give him an opportunity to gain control over his world, practice his decision-making skills, and learn how to deal with the consequences. While you’re giving your child this sense of power, she should know that certain things – such as not talking to strangers, playing in the kitchen, and wearing a seat belt – are not open for negotiation. Establish some rules around behavior that could be harmful to them. When possible, give your child a choice between 2 options that are equally acceptable to you. For example, if your child refuses to clear the table, you can say “We all help clean up after dinner. Do you want to clear the table or wipe the table?”

Set rules and be firm with the consequences

Make clear, simple statements about what’s off-limits, the reason why you’re setting these rules, and what the consequences are if they will not be followed. If your child tries to argue about something that you have already explained is a firm rule, simply repeat the original instructions and follow through with the consequence. Your child will know that you’re not just making empty threats if you stick to your word. 

Be a good role model

Kids imitate what they see and hear. You may have an argumentative child because he/she is surrounded by adults who bicker all the time. So, be intentional about changing how you speak whether with others or with your child. Kids aren’t born knowing how to communicate well. This is your opportunity to teach them how to express their feelings and opinions politely.

Know that you’re not always right

Sometimes, in our desire to assert our authority, we become emotional and fight with our children. We think we’re always right not only because we’re parents but we’re adults. To decrease arguments with your children, try to see the situation through a wider lens and different perspective. Maybe you’re right, but your child may have a valid point too. So, if your child insists on something, be willing to hear their side with an open mind. Appreciate their opinions and be ready to admit it when you are wrong. This will not lessen your authority as a parent. In fact, owning up to one’s mistakes will teach children responsibility and humility. It will also make them more likely to seek you out when they need help.

Pick Your Battles

“It takes two to tango” fits very well in resolving power struggles with your child. If your child is being persistently stubborn about the small things – say, leaving a small amount of food on his/her plate or not wanting to take a bath yet – ask yourself if engaging in another argument is worth it. If not, then let it go. You, as a parent, don’t always have to have the last word. Focus your energy and time on other things.

When the outbursts have become unmanageable – especially if the child argues with siblings, friends, and other adults and resorts to anger and violence – additional help might be needed. This is also a very emotional experience for parents so it is important for them to have someone who can empathize with and actively listen to them. If you’re looking for support, we at Thrive Collective would love to help! Reach out to schedule a free phone consultation and we’ll discuss your options!