Teach your child about these 3 things to end the arguing in your house.
First of all, let me just say that I don’t think argumen-TATION is a bad thing. Kids need to learn how to state their position clearly and concisely and follow it up with valid points in an effort to get their way. A lot of parents forget that this is a crucial part of the learning process and we should encourage it and engage it and let them win A LOT in the first 10 years or so of life.
Don’t come at me here with any BS about kids needing to respect authority. That’s a very different thing. I’m talking specifically about kids learning to persuade through argumentation as a discipline.
This is more about arguing.
“Hey Evie, I need you to go outside and pick up the chalk off the driveway before Remy runs over it with his bike.” “But I didn’t put it there!” “I didn’t ask if you put it there. I’m asking you to pick it up. Please don’t make me ask again.” “But Dad, Mikey was the one playing with it!” “I understand. Look, I don’t have time to discuss it with you. Just get it picked up.”
Huff. Puff. Blow the house down. Eyeroll. “UGGGHH….”
That’s a pretty mild example, but that’s the kind of argument most parents want to avoid. And most kids, to be honest. So here’s my solution: Give them a framework of how to think about their role in the house and family. I’ll show you the one we use.
Clean your room
Feed the cats
Clean the Aquarium
watch the baby
Sweep the kitchen floor
watch the baby
Sweep the kitchen floor
As you can see, just a short list of some of my 9 year-old’s responsibilities. She understands that these are NON-NEGOTIABLE. Arguing about these gets consequences like no more cats/fish. Simple realities to choose from. Occasionally, we need help with the VERY BUSY 1-year-old. When that arises, we ask Evie to help out with him. She has choices here. She can honor our RTO (respect, trust, obedience) code, which is a different concept we use. Or she can ask if this is her responsibility. Most of the time, we would tell her it is not, unless it’s urgent.
If we are giving her the option, she can choose to do it out of pure kindness and generosity. We encourage this! But we also equally encourage her to consider her time and what boundary she wants to set in that moment. She has the option to say “Thank you, but I’d prefer not to right now.” We honor that choice. (Again, this is not on major stuff that is part of her learning responsibility. Those are under the “Responsibility” category and remain non-negotiable.)
She also has the option to say, “I don’t really want to do that right now, but I will do it in exchange for (X) dollars.” At this point, she has begun a positional negotiation. We may ask her, “Are you wanting to negotiate?” If she agrees, then we make a decision on whether it’s worth our time to negotiate or just do the task ourselves. If we negotiate, we usually let her work towards a middle point that gets her some money and gets us the help we need.
This requires a serious decision by the parents to help a child understand how life and relationships work. It also helps them understand that her time is valuable and she gets to choose to be kind when she wants to. We are not teaching her to be nice. We are teaching her to value herself, her time, and also to assert herself when she wants to, without shirking what we have agreed are her responsibilities.
You can implement your own version of this framework and it will cut down on your arguing once the parameters have been set. There’s a bit of a time investment in the first few days, but soon you will have reduced your arguing by a noticeable amount and your kiddos will have a much clearer sense of how to participate in your family. Also, you are setting them up to define their future relationships and careers with a subconscious map of how to navigate the waters of life without feeling obligated to always say yes to things that aren’t their responsibility!
Try it out and let us know how it goes! We love hearing from you guys. Good luck!