RULE OF PARENTING #17: Fighting Fair: 4 Way to Help Your Child Stand Up for Himself through Argument

Let Your Child Stand Up For His Right

Rules Of Parenting - # - Mother Child Arguing SmileDid you know that arguments within families could teach children how to stand for themselves, to respect others and to take into consideration other people’s feelings? The U.S. Department of Families has found that arguments can be valuable after all. Here are some pointers for helping your child fight fairly whether he is arguing with mom and dad, his siblings or with his peers:

1. Be the Best Example

Children model their conflict solving behaviour after their parents. When they see you dealing with conflicts in an irrational, violent and abusive way, then they are likely to argue this way with you, their siblings and their peers.  Children, especially the younger ones, are still learning how to put their point across without offending others. Teach your child how he can stand for himself, solve conflict and express his feelings without being excessively angry, dramatic, abusive or disrespectful. Let them learn through your own conflict solving and negotiation behaviour.

2. Be the Bigger Person

Some children are more inclined to argue with their parents. It is tempting for a parent to engage in these never ending arguments that only lead to slammed doors, yelling and bitter feelings. While it is fine to let your child express her feelings, it is best to refrain from engaging in her drama. Take Sharon, the mom, who asks Cindy, her 9 year old, to help with setting the table. Cindy ignores her mother and Sharon asks her for assistance again. Cindy bursts out saying, “Who do you think I am? Some sort of slave who keeps doing housework? I hate you! I won’t do it!’ Sharon can choose to engage in Cindy’s drama and keep pestering her or she could give Cindy an alternative, to either help set up the table or clear up the table after dinner. It is not easy to disengage from the drama of overly argumentative children, but it takes a strong parent to guide the way towards a fair fight.

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3. Teach about Debating & Arguing

It is not advisable to stifle your child’s need to express or stand up for himself. Some parents simply tell their children to “shut up” or to “close their big mouth” when the child start to speak. Teach your child how to debate issue and opinion by allowing him to talk when he needs to. Also show him that debating is an expression of ideas and not an effort to trample over another person just to be the winner. On the other hand, arguments can be heated and they can lead to hurt feeling; constant arguments should not be encouraged in your home. So, encourage debate instead; but make it clear about the things that are debateable in the house and those that are not.

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4. Standing up to the Bully

Other than having arguments within the house, children can be faced with adversarial relationships with their peers. Most children will feel helpless when faced by bullies in the neighborhood or at school. It is essential for loving parents to teach their child how to stand up against bullies. Instead of wanting to face the bully yourself of dismissing your child’s concerns about being bullied, teach him how to solve these types of conflicts and how to protect herself. Yelling, hitting or pushing back is never the best approach to deal with bullies. Your child should neither cower when faced with a bully. It is a good idea to do role-plays with your child where you teach him assertive words and actions that he can use to stand up against peer aggression. Teach your child to verbalize how he feels at any given. It is difficult for a bully to push around another kid who is assertive, without being bullish.

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