When will we learn? That left to their own devises and ingenuity, our children can out-argue us. And, in the process, cause us to feel and act in foolish – if not harmful – ways.
We generally care about our kids’s egos more than they care about ours. This means there is a place where well intended parents will stop. However, there is no place that kids will stop until they have argued us into a corner and won the argument. Later we will scratch our heads and say, “What just happened?”
So, here are 3 words to save your sanity. Memorize them! And understand how they can be used to reduce arguing.
1) “Regardless” (and its counterpart “Nevertheless”)
This is a deflecting tactic.
Discuss, share, and talk as much as you like, but never, never, argue with your children! Instead, practice deflecting arguments. Children are masters at getting you to argue with them. You need to become a master of deflecting. This might be new for you, but it is possible with practice.
Child: “Jimmy gets to stay out until ten o’clock on school nights.”
Parent: “I understand that. Nevertheless, you be home at eight tonight.’
Child: “That’s not fair.”
Parent: “Regardless of whether it’s fair or not, be home at eight o’clock.”
Child: “I’m sick of hearing those words.”
Parent: “Regardless of how sick you are at hearing those words, be home at eight tonight.”
2) “Revisit” This is as postponing tactic.
Child: “Claire and I have found this really clean and safe tattoo parlor, so can I please get a tattoo this weekend.”
Parent: “We’ve discussed this before and there will be no tattoos for you until you’ve graduated from high school.
Child: “But, Mom, I’m almost 16 and I can make some decisions for myself”
Parent: “I know how badly you want a tattoo. Nevertheless, the answer is “no” for now — but we can revisit this matter when you graduate high school.”
Child: “But, Mom ….”
Parent: “We can revisit this tattoo matter when you graduate. You are welcome to bring it up then.”
3) “Asked & Answered” This is a shutting down tactic.
Child: “Danny is having a party out at his beach house this weekend. Can I go?”
Parent: “I’m aware the parents are going to be out of town. No, you may not go.”
Child: “Well, Danny’s older brother is going to be there.”
Parent: “No, you may not go.”
Child: “But, all the other parents are letting their kids go.”
Parent: “Did you ask me if you could go to the party?”
Parent: “And, did I answer you about going to the party?”
Child: “Yes, but …”
Parent: “Did you ask me?”
Parent: “Did I answer?”
Parent: “Then…asked and answered!”
Child: “But Mom …”
Parent: “Asked and answered!”
Will these techniques always work? Not always.
But you have a greater chance of success if you keep at them. Do not try to counter-answer every argument your child brings up. Practice these techniques. Otherwise, you will be led down rabbit trails you never knew were there. And at the end when they bring up some small matter for which you have no logical counter argument, Boom! They’ve got you.
You either lose your temper and become a bit (ok, maybe more than a bit) irrational, or you stalk off shouting, “OK, have it your way.” Or both.
Gregory Bodenhamer says this: “Human beings (including children) prefer doing things in their own way, in their own time, and given an option, will sometimes do as they please.” Check out his book, “Back In Control – How To Get Your Children To Behave” Prentice-Hall.
What ways have you discovered to keep your sanity and deflect, postpone, or shut down the ceaseless arguments with which your children flood you?
Dive into more of Carolyn’s helpful and encouraging wisdom, 5 Steps from Gratitude to Joy.
Carolyn Dunn coaches busy women who are time starved, disorganized and distracted balance a productive work life with a peaceful and nurturing home life. Instead of struggling with overwhelm, procrastination and time management issues they can learn to say “goodbye” to chaos, and “hello” to sanity. Carolyn has a strong Christian background and a Fuller Seminary Masters degree in theological studies as well as marriage and family ministries. She is actively involved in planning large conferences as well as small retreats, and has been the speaker at many seminars and workshops.
To learn more about the author please visit Carolyn Dunn Coaching.