When parents and children live in the same house for years, tensions can get a little high at times. It may be that parents feel children need to be disciplined and children do not like it. It could be that children are trying to gain a certain amount of independence and parents are not willing to let go. Where ever the tensions stem, emotions can rise which fuels arguments. In this post, I am going to let you in on a little parenting psychology and show you the strategies I use for avoiding arguments with children.
The ideas from this post is a condensed version of a chapter from Tantrums, Troubles, Treasures called Handling Arguments in the Home. Feel free to place your cursor above where it says About the Book then click on the Reviews tab. From there, you can click the book on the right hand side of the screen for your copy.
The first thing you have to understand as a parent is that there is a hierarchy in the home. Moms and dads are on top, children come next, and pets come last. Although most parents would understand this (generally speaking) they sometimes forget when emotions become involved such as frustration and anger. Those emotions do not have to stem from the child’s behavior. A bad day at work, a disagreement with the spouse, or even a frustrating article in a newspaper can plant the seeds. Once the seeds are planted, a child can easily set off a trigger. The trigger may cause a parent to argue with a child even if he/she knows better. Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, the child is the seed AND the trigger. But, if a parent thinks long enough about the overall day that the last argument took place; there is a chance that other events influenced the tensions with the child.
Arguments tend to occur when a certain amount of emotional control is lost or authority is challenged. Therefore, parents need to make sure they are keeping their emotions in check when a child is starting to lose theirs. When this happens, arguments can be limited if not completely eliminated.
Here are a couple of strategies I use when I feel an argument with a child heating up. Try one of these strategies and see if it will not work for you.
1. Be a good listener– Interruptions should be at a minimum. Let the child get out what is on their mind. If the subject is emotional enough, it is possible that the mental fatigue alone can help diffuse the situation. Sometimes children only need to be heard even if they know they are not going to get their way. A little patience by a parent is a small price to pay.
2. State your opinion in a calm but authoritative voice. Often times, I will use lines such as “I hear what you are saying but here is my decision.” If a child retorts, I sometimes only shake my head up and down or I may repeat my last line, “I hear what you are saying….”
Here’s a final psychological nugget that I hope will serve parents. I do not have to argue with children because I am always going to get what I want. Parents should consider adopting this type of attitude. It is the same mentality as if I was playing competitive chess with my 5 year old. I am going to win every time and it is not even a fair fight.
I will write to you again next week. Feel free in the meantime to visit my Facebook page at claytonpaulthomas. Also, if you are like me who is a twit that tweets; I can found @adad2trust. See you next week!