Some of us live in a world where our children seem to argue about everything, and we often wonder, “Who is in control here?”
We discover our children taking strong positions on everything from bedtime to homework to eating habits. Later, this turns to curfew, cell phone usage and R-rated entertainment.
If we’re not careful, we end up filling much of our daily life with constant arguments over daily limits that we know are important. Whenever we are setting limits, we find our children arguing and negotiating more strongly to the point where we end up screaming and yelling. Too often perhaps, we give into them after relentless negotiations, even when we know it isn’t the right thing to do.
It is remarkably frustrating and irritating to find our children arguing over every limit we set. Yet, it is important to know that we have the power to turn this around.
Early negotiations later become arguments
One of the common mistakes we make early on is engaging in negotiation with our children. We let them negotiate a little bit here and a little bit there. Perhaps, they negotiate a few more minutes of television time. Perhaps, they negotiate their way out of eating vegetables. Perhaps, they negotiate doing their homework tomorrow rather than today.
All of these negotiations are a major mistake—WHEN it concerns setting limits. Once we walk down the path of negotiating critical parenting limits, we will always be negotiating on these limits.
As time goes on, we find our children become convinced they can negotiate about everything. The older they get, the more vehemently they negotiate, and eventually the negotiation turns into an argument.
Arguments become screaming matches
As your children move into pre-adolescent and adolescent years, we cannot afford to promote an environment of constant arguing. We find that these arguments tend to empower children, and not empower parents. Children come to believe that their opinions have validity, when that opinion has no perspective of time and wisdom. Many of their ideas are focused upon getting immediate gratification, and rarely do they see and appreciate the voice of reason when it comes to reasonable (and necessary) limits.
All of this begins with an atmosphere of negotiation over limits, which empowers a child to believe that their thoughts around parenting limits have value.
Core truth: children only argue with parents who argue
I have never found an exception to this rule. I only see children arguing with parents who are willing to argue back.
Of course, I understand it is difficult not to respond. I understand they want to argue, and they cleverly pull you into discussions that turn into arguments.
But, the bottom line is you have to find a way to quit arguing over these things — before they will learn to quit arguing with you.
If you were to do this tomorrow, would it mean that they would stop trying to hook you into an argument? No!
If you did this tomorrow, would they easily give up? No!
If you did this tomorrow, would life instantly be better? No!
When you make dramatic changes dealing with your children, it takes a while for them to learn the system is operating differently. It also requires you gain the necessary parenting tools, in order to enforce limits without a lot of verbal dialogue, discussion, negotiation, or argument. Without this, it is easy to get hooked into the world where you think these arguments actually have some value—when they do not!
Dr. Randy Cale offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. For more information visit www.TerrificParenting.com.