Stop the Arguments in 2 Simple Steps

-Christy Prang is a Training Coordinator at CEDARS and a mom.

We’ve all been there. Frustrated. Lecturing. The battle of wills. And wits. And you’re thinking, when will this stop? When will my child grow up, or out of, trying my patience?

Unfortunately, lecturing and arguing teaches our kids a very sad lesson: arguing with my parents is a good way to get attention. Even worse, and I know I’ve been there, our kids might learn: if I’m persistent enough, my parents will give in.

As a CEDARS trainer, I teach a variety of courses to CEDARS staff and foster parents. My favorite course, by far, is called Love and Logic®, which gives parents some amazing tools for supporting their children as they learn and grow. The concepts in Love and Logic are for all levels of parents. Children do not come with “owner’s manuals” and every kid is so different. We have had anyone from a new parent to a seasoned foster parent with 60+ teenage placements walk away with an additional parenting tool they can use. I find myself relying on the following two-step method in my own parenting. It’s a life saver.

One: Go “Brain Dead.”

Do you remember being lectured by your parents? Did it work?

If our brains are engaged in trying to match wits with our kids, we’re doing both them and ourselves a disfavor. Instead, try going “brain dead.” Stop thinking. The less we say, the more effective we are. We cannot control our kids arguing and back-talking. What we can control is whether or not we power-struggle and argue with them.

Two: Use a One Liner with Genuine Empathy and Concern.

When our kids try to argue with us or beg, the best thing we can do is to repeat calmly a One-Liner. My favorite is, “What did I say?” For example, when my daughter says for the fourth time that day, “Mom, can I watch Frozen?” I respond with “What did I say?”

“But Mom please? Sarah’s mom lets her watch it every day.”
“Nice try sweetie, and what did I say.”

Some other One-Liners that other parents have used are: “Thanks for sharing,” “I know,” and “I don’t know.”

Can you hear yourself saying one of these One-Liners? Do you have a creative one of your own?

Try writing your One-Liner on sticky notes where you’ll see them as reminders: on the steering wheel of your car, your desk at work. The more you see it; the more you’re likely to remember it.

It is important to say your One-Liner with empathy rather than anger or sarcasm. Remember, you’re on their side. You want the best for them! Good luck, parents! I know you can do it.