The Practice Argument
April 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM
Practice, practice, practice...all kids are involved in something they have to practice. They all practice spelling and math equations. They might practice their soccer drills, or their cello. The old saying “practice makes perfect” is true.
So, did you know that arguing with your kids is also practice? Practice for what? What possible good could come from arguing? Just like any other skill, when you argue with your kids you’re developing their ability to stand up for themselves. This is crucial in standing up to peer pressure and bullies.
No one person is right 100% of the time, including parents, but parents often don’t want to admit when they’re wrong. When our kids make mistakes, and we tell them it’s okay, everyone makes mistakes and yet, some parents refuse to admit when they make mistakes. Is it a matter of pride, or do we believe that if we admit we made a mistake that it will appear as though we’re weak?
It’s just the opposite, to admit when you’ve made a mistake and apologize can be a difficult thing to do, especially when it involves parenting. No one wants to appear as an imperfect parent, but that’s what we all are. No one knows what they’re doing 100% of the time with children. That’s why there’s so much parenting information online.
When we argue and debate with our kids, hopefully, we show them how to do it properly and respectfully. Lead by example. If they, or you, are starting to lose their temper, say, it’s time for a break. No one can think clearly, and make rational decisions once we get flooded with adrenaline and shift into 'fight or flight' mode.
Listen to their argument. Ask for more information. Then state your case for why you agree with some parts and disagree with others. Give them the opportunity to support or alter their proposal. Negotiate, if you will. If they start to get defiant when you are stating your argument, calmly let them know that you listened to their side, now they need to listen to yours.
They will need to win some arguments and they will lose some arguments, but by winning that builds their self-confidence. They can’t win them all, but when they do win, that’s what will help them to know they can stand up to peer pressure and bullies.
When our children are toddlers and preschool age, we are teaching them our values and morals. As they get older, we reinforce these values and morals by showing them through the choices we make in our daily lives. As they reach preteen and teenage, they will begin to question our choices. By debating with your child, they will learn how to question others and stand up for what they believe is right.