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You are here : home > Raising Children > Behavioral Problems > Argumentative Children

Argumentative Children

Every time a child or his parent wants something from the other, chances are an argument will break out. For tips on dealing with arguments, and your child’s tendency to argue about everything, read on.

Why can’t you ever understand me! You never listen to me! You’re ruining my life! I hate you!

If you’re a parent, you have definitely had your ears ringing with dramatic exclamations like the above at some point or the other. And you’ve definitely uttered the following kinds of warning phrases yourself:

Don’t you dare argue with me! Because I said so! Not a word more! NO!

Arguing children and frustrated parents are the norm in most households. Arguments between parents and children can be healthy provided they are not blown out of control. The best way to approach an argument is to listen to the side of child. Giving value to the opinions and suggestions of the child will prevent arguments from getting out of control.

The Tussle for Authority

Authority becomes a major issue between parents and children. We were all children once and have all gone through phases when we've accused our parents of being unreasonable, autocratic, dictatorial, lacking in basic understanding, even being the enemy whose main aim in life is to thwart our happiness. We've all sworn at some point that when we become parents, things will be different. But somehow, they rarely are. The minute people become parents it's like a switch is clicked on in their brains and they go into a 'we're older so we know best' routine which becomes the cause for unending struggles for authority between parents and children.

35-year-old Sudhir Sharma recalls, "My parents were of the old school. There was no question of arguing with them. Their word was law. I think the first time I voiced any dissent was when I went to college and I desperately needed a raise in my pocket money."

Different Disciplinary Approaches

Parents of the old school believed that it was their duty to guide their children and protect them from the pitfalls of life. Children were expected to do what they were told and arguments were frowned upon. Unfortunately, this leads to defiance, deceit and the breakdown of communication between parents and children. 

At the other extreme, you have the parents of the egalitarian school of thought who believe that children have every right to express their desires and opinions and that this gives a boost to bridging the generation gap. However, parents who subscribe to the idea that 'children know what’s best for themselves' may find that it backfires. Even though children may question your authority and play 'know-it-alls', that does not mean that they do not need parental wisdom and guidance. Leaving them to their own devices will confuse them and cause anxiety. They need to know that you will always be there like a safety net.

Parents need to adopt a middle-of-the-road approach that is neither dictatorial nor too easygoing. It is essential that children learn that they must respect their parents. At the same time, they must be made to feel that their parents respect their thoughts and opinions in return. 

Some Useful Tips to deal with Argumentative Children

  • Argumentative children can really try your patience. However, try not to lash out and avoid scolding them and punishing them. This will only worsen things.

  • Using phrases like "don't ask questions," "just do as I say," "because I said so," will put you and your children in an adversarial position. These are negative statements that will only serve to put their backs up and reinforce their belief that they are misunderstood and that they are being victimized.

  • Try to make them see things from your angle. Ask them how they would feel if you spoke to them rudely and disrespectfully, the way they speak to you. Try to open their eyes to the fact that it takes two to make an argument.

  • Admonish them if they are disrespectful, but try to do it in a constructive manner. Tell them that you are willing to listen to their point of view, but only if they lower their voices and speak calmly and in a polite manner. 

  • If the argument has developed into a full-fledged battle and tempers are running high, it is advisable to take some time out and for both sides to calm down. Tell your children that nothing is going to be achieved while you are both in this frame of mind and that you will discuss the issue when your tempers have cooled.

  • Make your children feel that you care about their opinions. Teach them to negotiate their demands without getting aggressive and argumentative. 

  • Take the trouble to explain your disciplinary stand to your children.

  • Don't be inflexible and rigid. Bend the rules on certain occasions if your children state their case convincingly and without becoming hostile and aggressive.

For what does your child argue the most? How do you deal with your child’s arguing? Do you agree that arguments can be healthy for both parents and kids? Discuss here.

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Recent comments (32 comments)
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Name: vishesh shrivstava
Country: India

Much needed article for any parent. Planning on dicussing these tips at our parent teacher interactions in my daughter's school - Orchids International. This would help every parent in dealing with their children when they tend to be argumentative.
Name: Lidia
Country: Belgium

Argumentative children turn violent at times to prove their point..which is not good
Name: BrainSketch Solutions
Country: India

Every child is unique and is born with inborn capabilities ! Usually, our life course is influenced by our parents, teachers, peers, media and surrounding environment. Lack of awareness of our actual strengths and weaknesses leads us to spend our lives in mediocrity. This goes on generation by generation. Dermatoglyphics Multiple Intelligence Test (DMIT) is a tool to identify our potentials. It works as GPS System in our life. It helps us to know our position and map our direction in life. To get a DMIT test done for your child visit us at http://www.brainsketc
Name: Uma
Country: India

My daughter is 4.5years and she wants explanation for everything i ask her to do. So usually i will ask her to do what i said first, and then she can have the explanation. Her fav. line is Why i have to do so ? But an explanation usaully gets the thing done so i dont really mind. Think she is just buying time to make herself ready to do the task
Name: neeharika
Country: India

child imitates wht is shown 2 him, though sumtimes dey act unsocially bt den tht is d difference betn a child n grown-up...ven v argue wth dem v show dem d ways 2 do it wth us....v ve 2 control r emotions n go down up 2 their level rather den asking dem 2 cum up 2 r mind-set..i strongly believe tht proper care within d early 3-4 years decide d nature n behaviour of d child.
Name: milan
Country: India

education should help children how to respect parents and people arround but it does not happen in thier life.
Name: Rekha
Country: India

children, speacially when they step in their teens argue a lot.
Name: milan
Country: India

children are just children, they're innocent
Name: mohamed belfedhal
Country: Canada

gibran khalil said once:"your children are not your children. they are presents from god."
Name: quilter501953
Country: USA

i have two teenage boys who are extremely arguementive can't get them to stop i've tried everything. i know that they are adhd, but this is not part of it. any ideas?
Name: Caboodelsnu the clown
Country: USA

i should also mention that i am a christian, and in my belief, a child is a great treasure. i share your thoughts for the lives of our youth
Name: Caboodelsnu the clown
Country: USA

the lives of children are very precious. in loving your child, you should think first of love, and then take care of the rest later. it does'nt hurt being a kid sometimes, and clowning around on your child's good days can give them a much needed laugh or two. it is most important to remember that as blessings from god, your children deserve all the love you can give.
Name: Zora
Country: Canada

at home my son has always been able to state his case with me. we have a fair debate--he's quite good at stating his case. now at school he wishes to do the same with his teachers and they don't seem to appreciate it as much. what do we do when others aren't accepting of a child stating his opinions?
Name: Seema
Country: Canada

since my oldest is now getting more independent he has taken up arguing with mom. when it's time to change his diapers i will say to him, "ok lets go change your pants". instead of being a willing participant to the whole process he would rather fuss and whine instead, often vocalizing his displeasure over the impending diaper change. in an attempt to curb his resistance i have started to just pick him up from what he is doing and as i carry him off to the bathroom or bedroom to be changed, i begin actually changing him by tugging down his rubber pants to let him know that mommy is serious. i think in my own mind this sends a message to him that irregardless of how he acts mommy is going to change his diaper and rubber pants no matter what. it's strict but in a gentle kind of way.
Name: toufik gherbi
Country: Other

vivre c'est survivre a un enfant mort et qui fut nous
Name: CM
Country: usa

this is crap. what parents say is gospel.
Name: Sarah
Country: usa

toufik gherbi : have no idea what you just said. caboodelsnu the clown : a nice, but pointless and unhelpful message to someone who is really having problems with their children. seema : good job. be forewarned, however, he may fight harder a battle with you on it. i doubt you've won the war yet. zora : if the teacher is truly wrong on a point he may argue a bit, but has a problem with it, the child just needs to drop the subject. explain to your child that there's a time and place for argument. he needs to understand that sometimes you just need to agree to disagree. quilter501953 : yeah, here's an idea...stay out of it and let them argue it out. they both need to fight their own battles without you intervening. milan: "innocent" children? you don't have kids, do you? rekha : yes, it's normal for kids to argue in their teen years. there's all kinds of things going on in their bodies that they can't control.
Name: ABCD
Country: India

hi, i was looking for more details because the kind of daughter(age 10) i have is extremely argumentative for each and everything..and also revolting.for e.g. if i say sit sh'll stand and if i say stand sh'll sit.its more difficult when she doesn't listen to anything(even the normal things).i see that she obeys her dad better than me which makes me more upset.i really am confused and stressed finding a way out.what do you do when your child is not co-operating with you the entire day(i really mean the entire day and daily routines which is usually done with your kids)?please some body give me suggestions which will really work.i try to be polite at first,then argue and then finally i have to yell.i try to also be freindly with her.she continues to argue even with her teacher who comes to help with her home work.
Name: upset
Country: U.S.A.

that was the biggest load of crap i have ever cannot "reason" with a child..maybe a teenager, but not somone who has not developed a rational mind. opinions from children are based on their likes, not what needs to be done..and, when a child is yelling at their parents, teachers, etc. they have exhibited that they don't know their social boundaries. i totally disagree with the whole article. the only part that was close was the part that you don't need to scold, punish without explaining your point, or whatever..but, under no circumstances should a 5 year old be allowed to backtalk, or make demands of their parents. articles like this one are exactly why we have a generation of people with no respect for authority... people with no sense of what is acceptable in society..people that shoot their little brothers for hogging the nintendo..people who wear hats in restaurants, assault flight attendants, and throw fits on planes..and, parents who let them.!! i am gonna stop now before i go ballistic and quit my job to live under a bridge somewhere...
Name: Mom of 6
Country: U.S.A.

i have 6 kids,2 of which have given me a run for my money.they are very agrumenative, very disrespectful.i too am not necessarily sure i agree with what this article teaches.children while young should be taught obedience, as they get older, should be encouraged to express thoughts and feelings with respect for is never alright to allow a child to talk to anyone with disrespect.having said that, it does not change the fact that our kids feel the need to do so.the real question is where to draw the line and say enough is has to stop, and it is stopping right now and then finding ways to inforce it in a way that does not make the problem worse.a child who argues the sky is grey when it is clearly blue is arguing to hear himself make noise.i think that kids who do this have low self esteem,and they feel that this is the only way they are going to get much needed fear with my own kids is long term.if this problem is not resolved,what kind of employee or spouse are they going to be.i would like to see them happy, but it seems as if they are just never happy despite our attempts to please them. time out seems to be where they are most of the time.i have run out of ideas,anyone else have any suggestions??
Name: hammoustein
Country: Algeria

-i was just a child and now i'm only a man. -....manish boy.....boyish man. -"my son ask for thyself another kingdom for that which i leave is too small for thee".
Name: CDW
Country: U.S.A.

i have 2 children, the youngest being challenging on arguments since an early age. he is now 14. his arguments evolve on any subject on any level. he is both argumentative and disrepectful in his words. he sees nothing wrong with the behavior. his mother and i are exhausted after years of research and trying new approaches to deal effectively with the behavior, without much success. it seems to be getting worse with age. we have little trust that he will follow even the simplest direction without our direct oversight. it is getting a little scary with him now getting older and the need for self direction and control. we understand we need to be the parents in this matter. i do not believe your approach will be effective. we have tried this with certain aspects of his endeavors and he has failed miserably; resulting in even larger more looming problems. i believe the way to deal with him even though exhastive, will be for him to understand we are the parents and he is the kid. when he realizes that we know much more than him, things will begin to change. i do agree that matters need to be addressed with diplomacy and lacking of the frustrated emotions.
Name: gherbi fethi
Country: Algeria

ils sont tous très mignons mais ils nous font parfois tourner en rond. ici la vérité sort de la bouche des parents !
Name: hammoustein
Country: Algeria

-i was just a child and now i'm only a man. -....manish boy.....boyish man. -"my son ask for thyself another kingdom for that which i leave is too small for thee".
Name: hammoustein
Country: Algeria

-i was just a child and now i'm only a man. -....manish boy.....boyish man. -"my son ask for thyself another kingdom for that which i leave is too small for thee".


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