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Posts Tagged ‘stop arguing’

Three Ways to Discourage Children from Arguing

It can be challenging when a child argues with a parent. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers three ways to diffuse an argument before it escalates.

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1. Alexander, the main character in Judith Viorst’s wonderful Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, complains that it’s not fair about not getting new sneakers when his brother did. If a child said this to his mother, one strategy would be for his mom to say, “It may not seem fair right now because you don’t need new sneakers. When you need something, you usually get it and then it seems fair to you. Those are our family rules, discussion over.” Making sure it’s understood that the discussion is over is the crucial component.

2. Let’s say that a child is arguing with her mom about picking up her blocks. Mom, keeping her cool, might announce, “I’m setting the timer for five minutes. Any blocks not put away when it rings will be taken away. It’s your choice.” “Discussion over” is implied. Try not to include the oft-heard concluder “Okay?” because the child will never think it’s okay, and you are just inviting the next arguing match.

3. It is a good idea for parents to change their behavior first and not wait until the child does what the parent wants. If you feel yourself being sucked into the argument vortex, you should stand firmly and silently for 10-30 seconds, avoid eye contact, breathe a few times and then announce something like “I am not arguing any more so that I can help you learn how to manage yourself when you don’t get your way.” After doing this a few dozen times, it usually slows the arguing to a tolerable pace. Silence, without the shaming, is a parent’s most powerful tool.