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Avoid Arguments with Your Kids

A simple plan for ending the cycle of feeling like the bad guy when your kids can't see your point of view.

See if this scenario sounds familiar:

You frequently make decisions your children do not like. They, being (in your opinion) argumentative, strong-willed, and stubborn, demand to know your reasons. But no matter how well you explain yourself, you cannot get through their "thick skulls." The more you explain, the more upset they, and you, become. Eventually, some ugly scene ensues, after which you feel guilty, apologize for being so "unreasonable," and give in.

Fortunately, there is a way to never get into arguments with a child -- even a teenager. Here's how:

  • Accept the inevitable. Every child clings to the idea that the world should treat him or her as a special case. Your job as a parent is to pry this fantasy from the child's grip. As you do so, it becomes inevitable that your child will not like many of the decisions you make.
  • Save your breath. Children cannot fathom an adult point of view and will not until they become adults. Any attempt to help your child understand you will fall on its face.
  • Use the power of four words. Children do understand "Because I said so." They don't like it, but they understand it. Those four words tell a child that you, the parent, know where you stand. So go ahead and say it -- occasionally, that is.
  • Don't try to persuade. More often than not, tell your child the reason behind the decisions you make -- but don't ever try to reason. In other words, don't try to persuade your child into thinking your reasons have merit. Remember, you child won't be able to understand that until he or she becomes an adult.
  • Allow disagreement. When your child disagrees with your reasons, just say, "If I were you, I wouldn't agree with those reasons either. Nonetheless, my decision stands." If, at this point, your child accuses you of not being fair, just say, "I'd think so too if I was your age."

This simple, old-fashioned approach may be exactly how your parents stayed out of arguments with you when you were a child. And perhaps you and your spouse vowed never to say "Because I said so" or any other such old-fashioned thing to your children. But it turns out that your parents had a good idea.

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