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How to argue with your kids

Arguments poison love. Even if you win an argument, you lose a friend.

But what if your child has already started an argument? How to win an argument with him? … The only way to win an argument is to avoid it.

But how to do it? I know it’s not that easy.

All we can do is make sincere effort to avoid it. It might not work as much the first time, but after a few attempts, it works very well. Not only it helps avoiding an ongoing argument, it also helps in avoiding the source of arguments as well. That’s how to win arguments with your children.

How to avoid arguments: Rulebook for arguments

Here are some practical tips to avoid arguments with your children:

  •     Don’t jump on conclusions: Be generous
  •     Control your temper
  •     Be a good listener
  •     Disagreement is healthy
  •     Identify the areas of agreement
  •     Admit when you are wrong
  •     Think from child’s point of view
  •     Don’t expect written confession
  •     Don’t hurt his ego
  •     Use suggestive approach
  •     Avoid negative emotions
  •     Soften your voice tone
  •     Mind your body language
  •     Don’t be in a hurry to announce the final judgment
  •     Keep it short
  •     Don’t forget the general rules of ‘Parent child communication’

1. Don’t jump on conclusions: Be generous

In a situation adverse to us, our first impression is generally wrong. Why? Because we are prejudiced and biased against the other person. We tend to jump on conclusions and judge others thoughtlessly. Instead of understanding the whole situation, we reach our judgment on the basis of our first impression. We immediately say, he’s wrong’ or ‘he’s bad’.

Show some generosity. Don’t be in a hurry to judge your kids, and if you do, don’t judge them so harshly … be liberal in your judgment, if at all the need be.

2. Control your temper

Hold on … manage your anger for a while. Keep calm in an argument. Let this moment pass away. A little while later, you’d be somewhat cool and look at the things more rationally and understand the situation better.

If you can let this moment pass away, most of the damage that arguments do would be avoided. I’m sure you would be a different person after 10 minutes to react on the same arguments of your child.

I understand that it’s not easy to digest facing a child arguing with you. But this does happen sometimes. You are wiser than your child, and therefore it is your duty to teach him how to avoid arguments.

How do you do it? … by showing him how to argue and how not to argue?

So don’t lose temper. Control yourself or you’ll teach him the incorrect and messy way to argue.

Losing temper turns petty arguments into heated arguments and then into a full fight. Remaining calm in argument also saves lots of embarrassment.

3. Be a good listener

Listen to the child carefully. Let him speak his mind and heart fully so that you can understand him clearly. If you let him speak, most of the part of arguments will be over. After a while he’ll run out of words. Now there can’t be any argument. Because no one can argue with a silent person. He’d be less adamant now.

But if you keep interrupting him, he can’t complete what he wants to say and get further irritated by this, which will further spoil the conversation. Let him finish. Do not resist, defend or debate. This will only raises new barriers between you two.

4. Disagreement is healthy

Arguments arise out of disagreements. If your child disagrees with you, it is a sign that he has started thinking himself an individual identity, and it is good and healthy. Sooner or later he has to learn to take his own stand for various things. Think of a person who has no stand of his own … a person like that will be dominated by people around him, his husband, wife, partner etc.

As parents we must ensure that the child learns to take his own independent view of things and stand for it.

So next time your child argues with you, just relax …. he is growing. Losing temper will do no good. Welcome the disagreement and teach him how to disagree without arguing, … by showing him how to do it.

5. Identify the areas of agreement

Find out the areas on which both of you agree. Pick up his actual arguments from whatever your child speaks. I’m sure the areas of agreement will be far more than areas of disagreement. This will ease the tension to a great extent.

Now you can focus only on the areas where you disagree. It gives you clarity of the scene. Now you can make a better strategy to deal with the limited area of disagreement. This will bring the child in the mode of saying yes to some of your suggestions and puts him in YES Mode.

6. Admit when you are wrong

If you find something wrong on your part, admit it immediately, and apologize for it. Accept if you have learned something new during the course of the arguments. This will disarm the child.

The child can argue against an argument. He can’t argue against no argument.

7. Think from child’s point of view

When we argue, we think about our point of view only. Try honestly to see things from your child’s point of view. Children may be totally wrong. But they don’t think so. So try honestly to get into their shoes.

Think for a while, how would you feel and react if you were in your child’s situation. This will change your attitude towards your child. And your changed attitude will encourage the child to have an open mind to your words. It reduces the friction to a great extent and eases the tension.

8. Don’t expect written confession

If the child accepts his mistake, close the argument then and there. Even if you think he is not admitting his mistake the way he should. Even if he does it making faces. Don’t expect the child to give you a written confession. Don’t expect him to make a good face and give a big smile. He will take time to become normal. If you continue to argue your point even after the child has admitted his mistake, the child will certainly bounce back and a fresh round of arguments will start.

9. Don’t hurt his ego

Don’t directly say you are wrong. Don’t scold, ridicule or condemn. It will make the situation worse. Don’t use words which let the children down, like ‘stupid’, ‘dumb’, ‘fool’. Don’t use the words which smell like dictates, commands, orders and judgments. Don’t use sentences like, ‘You must understand…’, ‘I want you to do this…’. These words turn an otherwise cool discussion in a battlefield. Treat them the way you would like to be treated in their situation. Have some respect for them.

10. Use suggestive approach

Use suggestive sentences like, ‘‘Let’s see how we can improve it.’’, “Let’s see how you can do it in an easier way”, “Let’s brainstorm together”. This makes the atmosphere pleasant and the child would be in the mode of accepting your words. While making suggestions, you can gently take his attention to the area of disagreement and explain your point in a subtle manner.

11. Avoid negative emotions

Don’t express your arguments through any negative emotions like anger, hatred, sarcasm or things like that. These emotions let the children down and make them feel insulted. Their self-esteem is hurt, which arouses resentment. Resentment makes him lose temper and the argument turns into a full fight in no time.

12. Soften your voice tone

Your voice tone also reflects emotions. How you speak is much more important than what you speak. A simple word ‘Thanks’ can be spoken most politely as well as in grave anger. In both the situation the same word conveys altogether different messages. Arguments can be healthy only if done in a mature, friendly, graceful and polite manner.

13. Mind your body language

Remember most of your emotions are reflected through your body language. So mind your body language. Straighten the skin folds on your forehead, relax your facial muscles, eye-brows, and other body muscles. If you find it difficult to control your body language, try to smile before and during the conversation. Smile tends to relax the tension and emits positive vibration, which calms down the temperature of the situation.

14. Don’t be in a hurry to announce the final judgment

This session of arguments is not the end of the world. Don’t be in a hurry to pass a final judgment over the arguments. No judgment is required in the first place. But if you are desperate to prove something, don’t do it now. Prove your child wrong in some other manner at some other time so that he is not hurt. Let this process take its own time. After a few hours, or may be few days, your child won’t be as adamant as he is now.

In the mean time you can explore your knowledge, wisdom and resources available to you to find a way to deal with the problem and make the child realize his mistake. This also cools down your mind. May be nothing needs to be done actually. May be there was no need to argue as there was nothing so important. May be the child was right in his age and circumstances. May be you yourself triggered the argument. May be you can think a little above that one single incident of argument. May be you find an altogether new solution to the problem.

By deferring your judgment you are giving time to yourself as well. So it is for the betterment of both of you.

15. Keep it short

Keep this session as short as possible. Length of an argument is directly proportional to its ill effects. So keep it short. Change the topic at the earliest opportunity, and appreciate him for any other thing which he has really done well. It will melt him further.

16. Don’t forget the general rules of 'Effective communication with children'

The general rules of effective communication with children apply on every interaction of the parents with the kids. These rules set the basic stage on which every activity involving interaction between parents and children happens. So, don’t forget them at all. Add on these rules with them. Also have a look at How to criticize.

This is how to win every argument with our children


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