I like a kid with an opinion. I appreciate a kid who thinks about things, and isn't afraid to speak their mind. They've got spunk. They're usually a lot of fun to be around.
There are plenty of positives about these kids. They are likely to be firm in their convictions. They often grow up to be great leaders.
Often these kids are prone to arguing. And though there is a place for a healthy argument, kids who argue... ALL. OF. THE. TIME? They can make us parents crazy, can't they?
We happen to have one of the arguing types in our home. And I'm the first to say that the charming qualities of that opinionated kid can wear off pretty quickly, only to be replaced by serious frustration.
If you ask this kid to brush his teeth, he'll say "Ok, but not until I finish..."
If you tell this kid to clean his room, he'll say "But first I have to..."
If you offer to take him surfing, he's likely to say "But I wanted to skate."
And just to test him, we'll call the sky blue just to hear him argue that it is much more of a shade of aqua.
He is quite contrary.
And it's funny. But not.
My husband and I want very much to raise kids with independence, and the ability to think for themselves. But we also want to raise kids who understand respect for their authorities, and humility. So we are currently working on that fine line of teaching our boy to think for himself, but also to respect us. And as long as he is in our home... to obey without arguing.
Since I'm pretty sure we aren't the only one with a kid who loves to argue, I thought I would share a list of things we have come up with here. These tips are helping us get through the days with a little more peace in the home.
1. Keep Perspective.
If you have a kid prone to arguing, remind yourself that there are absolute positives to this personality trait. He or she will likely grow up to be a strong leader, and will do great things.
2. Talk about it!
Talk to your son or daughter about the issue. Make sure they understand that arguing with their parents is not acceptable. Tell them that even if they are convinced that they are right, the issue is one of respect. You are their parents and they need to listen and submit to the things you say. This applies whether they are seven or 17. There is a place for discussion (see #3) but the general rule needs to be submission and respect. This rule alone can remove a lot of debating, AND second guessing yourself.
3. Use an appeal rule.
Offer your kid the opportunity to "appeal." An appeal will help remedy the "habitual" side of arguing, and will make it easier for your kid to bite their tongue when they are just dying to challenge you. Give them a chance to think through things, and then when everyone is in a good state of mind, sit down and hear them out. Kids need to feel heard, and their opinions should matter. I suggest choosing a standard amount of time between the argument and the appeal. Kids will feel affirmed and secure if they know that there is a fair system in play.
**Note: I use this for big decisions, but not for daily things like chores and doing homework. (Oh but believe-you-me, they still try. )
4. Enforce set consequences for arguing.
A habitual arguer will not give it up easily. So it is most wise to expect it, and be ready when the moment happens. I recommend using one or two specific consequences that your child knows will be waiting if and when they decide to challenge you. You might decide to give one warning or reminder. THEN: Give them the expected consequences with a smile and strong back bone. Straight forward consequences can be as simple as taking away a privilege, or assigning an extra chore. The key: Call them on it. Every. Single. Time... nip it in the bud and let the consequences be uncomfortable enough that the thrill of the argument fades away.
5. Reward obedience.
Notice the positives! Make sure to acknowledge it when your child obeys quickly. If you tell them how much it helps you, and how much you appreciate it when they cooperate, it will encourage them to do more of the same. When they experience the peace and unity that obedience brings, they might just want to begin a new habit. And it might be even cuter than the first.
Any ideas to add? Do you have a child prone to arguing? If you have any tips or tricks of your own, we'd love to hear from you!