How many times have you told your ten-year old kid not to leave his bag, clothes and shoes lying near the door? And how many times has he answered back about keeping them there since he’ll be going out again anyway? How many times have you scolded him about how messy his room is and him defiantly answering why he needs to clean it since it’s his room anyway? How many times have you asked him not to fight with his baby sister and listen to him vehemently denying what you obviously saw?
All these scenes seem part and parcel of the everyday life of families that mothers and fathers may even assume that it’s normal to argue with their kids. Parents may engage their children in this battle of the wills until they realize just how tiring it is and then unraveling their stance later on when they just leave their children to do what they want because they got tired of arguing. In these instances, no one has won. The parents lost because they gave their children mixed signals about what’s right and wrong. The child, too, loses because the standards of behavior set aren’t clear.
Ways to Win an Argument with Your Children
As a parent, it is your responsibility to bring up a child into a healthy and loving environment. It is part of your mandate to make your kid a responsible and respected member of society. This starts from the time a baby is born into this world and continues until he spreads his wings and exercises his independence at 18 years old. However, many parents have realized just how difficult it is to raise a child without locking horns with him sooner or later. You can expect to engage in a lot of arguments with them as they grow older. If you want to win an argument with your children, consider the following:
1. Children follow by example.
One of the most obvious truths that you should acknowledge as a parent is that children follow by example. They mirror what adults do. Babies learn to speak because parents teach them to. This is why parents are told not talk to them in baby talk since little kids are absorbent sponges—they immediately assimilate what others say to them.
Children follow by example to everything. If you use power to manipulate them, they will also use power over you. Think about the classic battle of the wills that you usually engage in with your child. Try to review why they happen. More often than not, you’ll realize that how your children act towards you is also a reflection of the ways you use your power to control your children. Since they are still young, their understanding of power is limited and they use it against you the best way they know how—and more often than not, this is often the start of an argument.
If you want to avoid arguments with your kids, lead by example. Act only in ways that you want them to act. Using power over your children or manipulating them is the best way to court arguments and eventually lose them. Set a good example first and your kids will follow.
2. Respect your kids as individuals.
It’s important that you don’t see your kids as children who do not know any better, that you are always going to be right and they are not. Each child is born unique and already possesses a personal that makes him different from you and the rest of the world. He may still need your guidance and care in order to survive but he is one individual that needs to be respected. Think about those moments when you had to wake up at three in the morning just to feed him. You were responding to his individual need to eat at such an ungodly hour. That’s a mark of his individuality. You needed to respect that so you can provide for his needs. Now that he is slightly older, your kid is exploring this individuality and his newfound freedom. Respect that. Here’s the secret: When you respect your kid, you’ll also be rewarded with respect. That alone will cause you to win every argument.
3. Love your children more.
When we say that we love our children, we usually mean that we protect them from all harm. Of course, this is non-negotiable. However, this does not mean fencing them inside the house so they won’t get injured. Love also means giving them the freedom to explore and learn for themselves. As they grow older, you gradually loosen your hold on your kids and allow them to experience the world. More often than not, parental control and your child’s wish to explore are at the crux of most arguments.
Let’s take a hypothetical situation that seems to happen many times among families: Your 12-year old daughter asks your permission to go to a slumber party at her friend’s house. This is the first time that she asked to go so you are naturally worried. You don’t want her to go but also understand that this is something that will help her grow and develop.
Loving your child in the situation above does not mean not giving her permission to go to protect her. It also means allowing her to explore. However, this does not mean that you shouldn’t take steps to keep her safe from all harm. You can ask where the party will be held and verify with that host child’s parents about the details of the party. Pertinent questions may include: When will the party be held? Will there be adults supervising the kids? If you are assured your child will be in good hands then you can give your permission. You can also set other rules with your kids like calling you at a particular time and picking her up at a specific time.
These kinds of compromises can apply to all sorts of situations—attending camp, going to college away from home and choosing an apartment even when he or she is already old enough to live on his or her own. As a parent you will always be concerned about your child even if they already have their own kids. What’s important is that you give them the opportunity to explore and practice their own freedom gradually. Doing so will allow them to learn and become responsible adults later on.
4. Trust your child.
As parents, trusting our children to do the right things seems difficult. We may not openly admit it but we always assume that our kids will always do something wrong. Our premise is that they can’t do anything right. This should not be our mindset. For as long you have reared your child with love and affection and instilled in them lessons that they need to learn from an early age, you should allow your child to explore and yes, even make mistakes and learn from them.
5. Be a friend to your child.
One thing that all parents can be guilty of from time to time is not listening to their children. We listen more to our friends than we do our kids. Just because they are small doesn’t mean that they have nothing of importance to say. The solution to this is to be a friend to your kid. Listen to what they have to say and address their concerns the way you would any other adult. This accomplishes two things: First, it allows you to really understand what they really want to say. Second, it makes them feel important and loved. When that happens, you have already won half the argument.
You should start loving, respecting and trusting your kid early on as possible. This does not mean that you don’t already do so but doing so in ways that make it clear that you see them as individuals who have a mind of their own. As much as possible, this kind of treatment should start way before adolescence since most arguments take a turn for the worse during the teenage years. However, if you have already established a relationship with your child that values their dignity and self-worth then you won’t have a lot of problems with bullheaded kids who question your every decision.
The surprising thing about loving your child and respecting him as an individual right from the start is that it automatically lessens the friction when he grows older. Because you have made it a habit to listen to what he has to say and really understand where your kid is coming from then you are able to resolve arguments in a peaceful and mutually beneficial manner. Your child will feel respected and you aren’t drained of energy trying to constantly hammer a point in his head.
In the end, you want your child to bloom and be the best he can be. You cannot do this if you don’t allow him the freedom to be himself. Love, respect and trust—fulfill these three essentials in your child and you’ll have won all arguments with your kid all the time.