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Fighting with Your Teen? What to Do After the Blowout 7 Steps to Defuse the Tension

By debbie pincus, ms lmhc.

Mom trying to talk to her son

Does this sound familiar? You’ve told your teen she can’t go out with her friends this Friday because she came in past curfew last weekend. There’s been a huge fight where one—or both of you—lost control and screamed at each other. Now the tension in the house is unbearable. Your child is irritable and argumentative—or sullen and moody—and you’re walking on eggshells around her in order to avoid a repeat performance.

“Don’t keep discussing the fight. Move on so the elephant can move out.”

To put it mildly, adolescence can be a rocky time between parents and teens. After all, our perspective on life is very different. Often, teenagers try to be invisible because they feel like all eyes are on them constantly. Perhaps they want to buy the newest fashion trend so they can fit in and look like everyone else. Their thoughts and behaviors revolve around dealing with their reality. Parents, on the other hand, are focused on more practical concerns. They’re thinking about things like, “How are we going to have enough money for college?” or “What can I do with my kid who’s more concerned about fitting in than her test tomorrow?” When your teen asks to buy an expensive pair of jeans or some other fashion item that she “has to have,” you may get worked up and think, “I just bought her a new pair of sneakers and now she wants something else? She doesn’t do anything to help around the house, but she’s always asking for more, more, more.” Your child wants something, you say no, and then come the fights, disagreements and hurts—and tension grows in the relationship.

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But it doesn’t have to be this way. Just as there are ways to avoid blowout fights, there are also ways to avoid the animosity and tension afterward. I want to say very clearly that it’s normal to feel upset after a fight with your teen. It’s also important to remember that each person deals with the aftermath of an argument in their own way.

Here are 7 steps towards defusing the tension.

1. Give it some time

Give yourself and your child the space needed to gain back equilibrium. Tolerate the tension without feeling that you have to get your teen feeling good about you again, or that you need to get her out of her funk and negativity.   Don’t be needy by wanting her to be okay with you immediately. It’s important to deal with your own feelings after the fight without needing your child to validate you.

2. Acknowledge the elephant in the room

The fight is over and you’re glad. But you now feel an icy silence in the room. Or maybe there’s irritability and continued open conflict over seemingly nothing. Recognize that these are the aftershocks of the earthquake. Your job is to sit with it and breathe. Don’t feel like you have to get rid of the distress immediately. If you can tolerate the tension without having a knee-jerk reaction to get rid of it, then you can give yourself some time and space to think. Ask yourself, “Why is this tension here—and is it best to leave it alone or address it in some way?”

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3. Think about the elephant

There are many possibilities for tension after a fight. Think about what it might be for you.

Whatever the reasons, it’s natural to have some tension between the two of you after an outburst . Sometimes you’ll feel the effects for weeks. Once you think it through and own your contribution to the tension, you’re ready to either let it go, or address it with your teen.

4. Address the tension

If your teen hurt you with verbal attacks, it’s okay to tell her you were hurt by her words and actions. It may take you a while to feel like engaging with her again, and that’s okay.

Remember that not everything needs to be addressed all the time. For example, if you feel you’re in the clear and that you did nothing other than set a limit, you don’t need to apologize or re-open the discussion. Don’t change your mind in order to defuse the tension. Nothing more needs to be addressed other than an empathetic statement like, “I wish the circumstances were different and I could have allowed you to go out with your friends. But that isn’t the case this time. I know how much you wanted to go and I’m sorry for that.” Allow your child her feelings of disappointment or frustration—and work to tolerate your own feelings of guilt and discomfort. Remind yourself that those feelings are temporary.

If you did say “yes” to avoid further conflicts, but now feel a resentment towards your child, take responsibility for your feelings. Say something like, “I noticed I’m feeling tense because I gave in to your demands and now I’m resenting you for that. I realize that’s not fair to you. Next time I’ll say ‘no’ and not give in to please you. It leaves me resentful and that’s not fair to you or to our relationship.”

If you sense that your child is trying to provoke you by using guilt or the silent treatment in order to “change you back” to the way you were before you started setting healthy boundaries, just let it be and don’t give it legs. Nothing needs to be addressed. You haven’t done anything wrong. Just disengage and the tension will eventually defuse itself.

On the other hand, if you recognize that you lost control during the blowout, apologize for your behavior and any hurt you caused. Don’t use the word “but” when you apologize; in other words, don’t say things like, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but you were making me crazy.” Just keep it short: “I’m sorry for losing control.” Address what needs to be addressed, learn from it so you can do better next time and then let go and move on. And if nothing needs to be addressed, just disengage.

5. Ignore the silent treatment

If your child is giving you the silent treatment , you don’t have to join in.  Speak to her anyway if you feel ready to engage—without being mad at her if she is not. Even though you may not get an answer from her, you can say, “Boy, it doesn’t sound like you’re ready to talk to me yet.” And then just go on about your business.

6. Don’t hold grudges

Sometimes parents can hold grudges. They may feel disgusted and angry by something their child did and so they hold onto that anger. How do you know if you’re holding a grudge unfairly? I think you just have to keep checking in on yourself and take responsibility for what you’re feeling. If the fight is over and you find yourself simply wanting to give your child the cold shoulder, or you’re picking on her and being critical for no reason, those are signs you’re not finished—there are some unresolved feelings there. This is why it’s so important to acknowledge that there’s tension in the first place. So check in with yourself, see how you’re acting, and observe what you’re doing. Think about why there’s tension, and then address it if it needs to be addressed.

7. Don’t discount feelings

Don’t try to get rid of your child’s negative feelings by discounting them or trying to cheer her up when she’s still mad. Also, don’t argue about who was right or wrong. I think many parents sense tension when they know their kid is mad at them and they try to make it better by pretending nothing happened or by being falsely cheerful—but they only end up making matters worse. This is actually needy behavior. When you feel bad and want everything to be okay—and you don’t let your teen have the space to get back on her own feet—it’s not fair to her. Instead of doing that, try saying, “I know you feel angry after our fight. So do I. When we both feel better, I hope we can talk about it and then move on.” Don’t keep discussing the fight. Move on so the elephant can move out.

Related Content: How to Walk Away From a Fight With Your Child How to Stop Fighting with Your Child: Do You Feel Like the Enemy?

About Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC

For more than 25 years, Debbie has offered compassionate and effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Debbie is the creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM™ program and is also the author of numerous books for young people on interpersonal relations.

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Steph I have a 15 (almost 16) year old daughter. I have felt our disagreements align with this stage in our lives, but today something hit me differently. I am not the best communicator and I am HIGHLY sensitive - so that often interferes with my communication. Therefore I fear More she is/will have the same issues. She told me today during an argument that she never communicates right because the same thing that happens with us happens with her and her friends. Since this has stretched past what goes on between the two of us it has elevated my worry for her. I want to help and teach her better...but if I am teaching her wrong with how I react, I'm at a loss. I am trying to implement better coping and response tactics but I don't always get it right...obviously. If she can't communicate with me how will she learn to do so with others? I am hurting so bad for her.

argumentative 14 year old boy

Thank you for reaching out. I can hear how distressed you are that you're not able to stay calm when your kids are acting out. This is a common challenge for parents. It can be hard to keep your cool in the face of verbal disrespect and abuse. We have several articles that offer tips for how to stay calm as a parent. You can find those articles here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/parenting-strategies-techniques/calm-parenting/

In regard to the physical abuse you are experiencing, it's important to have firm boundaries around that. As James Lehman explains in his article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/when-kids-get-violent-theres-no-excuse-for-abuse/, there is no excuse for abuse. We have several articles that focus on this difficult topic. You can find those here: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/child-behavior-problems/abusive-violent-behavior/

We appreciate you being part of our Empowering Parents community. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

My husband did not set any or would not allow any boundaries so my daughter started doing things that were very upsetting and disrespectful

This caused a lot of conflict with her and I and she believed she should be able do whatever she wants without question. We got into arguments and she blames me and says she should be allowed to do whatever she wants and is now angry towards me. What can I do ?

We hear from lots of parents who share similar distress over not being on the same page as their co-parent. We have several articles that offer helpful tips for what you can do: https://www.empoweringparents.com/search/parenting+differences

Thank you for reaching out. Be sure to check back and let us know how things are going. Take care.

susjan Hi, My daughter (18 years old) moved from home about four months ago to go to college in another town. Since then we have kept contact over skype and also because we have a common hobby and we speak about it often and I help her with it. She has More been anyway lately disrespectful and since she came for Christmas this disrespectfulness has increased. If for example she does not like a subject she tells my son (14 years old) and me to shut up, like forbiding any situation she does not like. On Jan 1st it is a family tradition to play some table games and we started doing so, but at some point, interrupting the game and spoiling the fun for all, she said that she was not in the mood. I asked her to continue, so that we could finish the game, and she did it, but playing dumb moves, like to lose asap. We argued and she said a lot of bad things about me. Now it is Jan 6th and we still do no speak to each other. She will leave the day after tomorrow to college again and I feel destroyed, seeing that my daughter will go away from these Christmas holidays angry with me, not having really spent time with me and with her being away this will be worse. But I also do not think that I am the one that has to go after her trying to solve this. My wife tells me that if I do not do anything I might lose a daughter, but how can this be? If I am the one to go after her trying to solve, then next time it will be worse. She will think that this is how it is. She treats us disrespectfully and then we try to solve? How should I handle this?

Thank you for reaching out. I can understand your concern. Granted, you daughter is an adult so she does have the right to make her own choices. As the parent of an adult child, you determine whether or not you will continue to support those choices. WE have several articles on parenting adult children you may find helpful: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article-categories/ages-and-stages/adult-children/.

We appreciate you being part of the Empowering Parents community. Take care.

Kelley We have a 17 year old son that has started dating a girl that lives an hour away. He likes to go see her on the weekends. He also plays basketball and it’s his senior year and he’s trying to get a scholarship. He had a game last night, conference More tournament playoff and we lost unfortunately had been undefeated and won the conference, my son got conference player of the year. After the game we got home around 10:30 and he wanted to go see his girlfriend and my husband had a fit, every time he wants to go down there my husband tries to come up with reasons for why he shouldn’t go see her and how she is controlling his life and he isn’t focused on basketball, only cares about seeing her, that he doesn’t care about us and only cares about her etc... this has been a fight almost daily or anytime he wants to go anywhere, my husband says why can’t he just stay home that he doesn’t care about basketball and just wants to party blah blah it’s always some reason why he shouldn’t go do things with his friends. My husband is constantly going on about our son being disrespectful, that’s all he ever says, we shouldn’t let him do anything because he’s so disrespectful. My husband is an only child who grew up very sheltered in a small town where people think it’s 1950 still and it was a very different lifestyle. Times are different and he seems to forget that our son is a teenager. He is going through a lot of changes and instability. He may lose his temper one minute and then cry the next, he’s young and it’s hard being a teen, I went through it and I remember, was the worst time of my life but now he’s a senior and will be 18 soon, he gets good grades, never gets in trouble, is an incredible athlete, he’s a good kid, he’s done nothing wrong yet my husband wants to punish him all the time for being “disrespectful “ I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m constantly being put in the middle and then my husband and I end up arguing and our 10 year old daughter has to listen to this nonsense day in and day out. Last night my husband told my son and I that we need to stop texting with each other, who is he to tell me I can’t text my son? I’m allowed to have my own relationship with my son, my paranoid husband thinks we are texting about him and sometimes we are but my son will text me because he’s frustrated with him and needs someone to talk to, my husband takes my phone when I go to bed at night and goes through it then uses it against him. That’s so wrong and then he tells me look at how our son is behaving, I feel like he’s the one behaving badly. This has become a daily issue and I just am almost to the point where I can’t handle it anymore, do you have any suggestions?

I have 2 daughters, 14 and 13, and one 11 yr old son. My middle child - my 13 year old and I can hardly go a couple days without a fight. She often misinterprets what is said as some sort of challenge or criticism, when it absolutely is NOT. I feel like anything I say is wrong. My other two children have called her out of control, but she is just highly sensitive and emotional. She has 0 confidence in anything - academics, looks, everything. She has this issue with everyone, really, including her boyfriend (yes, I realize she’s only 13 almost 14 but they are really great together and he “gets” her. Been close almost a year) and many “past friends”. She is GORGEOUS and people tend to gravitate to her (especially male), but she can be very mean to those closest to her - her family and bf (who, naturally is her closest friend). She and I are very close but also fight hard usually bc I ask a question or bc there is miscommunication or misunderstanding. She constantly needs things - clothes, beauty products - and cannot be by herself. She has adhd but doesn’t like the meds, so I don’t force it since she *can* function. It’s just her moods... yikes, especially when around her period. So much so that I put her on birth control to mitigate some of the moodiness (and, let’s face it, other reasons too).

I cry all the time, and so does she. She is unreasonable sometimes. I feel crazy! She tells me I am. Do I just need to stop reacting to her? Sometimes I feel like I’m scared of her.

AmIjustbeingoverprotective My 16yr old daughter is my only child. Her father and I love her, support her in school and goals. We value her as her own indiviadual and she has her freedom to express her opinions or what not. We love her our baby. However, her biological father and I More set certain limits to her going out. She just began asking us to go out more and more with friends, (some old or new friends) tho she does very well in school and is a good kid but she does nothing to earn these privileges. I hear from her that I "Have her on a leash" but just for one example, just lastnight, she was allowed to go over this girl friends house and sleepover. The following day she was then to go with her friend and the mother to go prom dress shopping for her friend. My daughter friend here, is 17. Well I spoke to the mom of this friend and the mom told me she understands where I come from and the limit I have with my daughter. (As I always need to speak with my daughters friends parents) it just gives me peace of mind. This mom understood me, so me and my husband let our daughter sleepover and go out to this outing the followed day. Turns out ,we drop my daughter off ,and I head back home. A few hours later I check in with my daughter and she txts me she is out with her friend, its late (for me at least for her to be out and about) (without my permission) and the mom of this other girl didnt care to ask me that she just let our girls drive out. No adult in the vehicle but her 17yr old has her license. I mean, I flipped. My daughter knew that was a huge No No,and pushed it. Am I overreacting in this case? I picked her up the following day and she could not go to this outing to help her friend find a prom dress. Am I wrong? I spoke and argued a little with my daughter but she keeps saying "she just wanted to have fun" or "she wanted to just hangout with her friend". When I txt my daughter at the time of me finding out she drove with her friend into town without my permission, my daughter was txting me back, it was not a big deal .... Umm... Yes it is! At least I think. How does this build trust? Why wouldnt the other mother txt/ call me before these girls were thinking to drive out? I think it was poor communication with that other mom towards me bc I made myself clear how I am with my daughter. I thought she understood. So, now I grounded my daughter but I'm afraid she still thinks I'm not letting her do what she wants as far as to hangout with friends. She does no chores. She doesn't help raise a finger in this house. Where do I draw the line? Am I being over protective? Should I have not freaked out and let her stay at her friends house? Please help

Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach I hear you. It can be so hard when you set a limit with your teen, and she responds by giving you the silent treatment. As outlined in the article above, it can be useful to do your best to interact with your daughter normally, so that you More are not reinforcing her passive aggressive behavior with attention. Chances are that your daughter’s reason for not talking with you is more about her lack of effective conflict management skills rather than how she feels about you and your family. By demonstrating a calm, neutral demeanor, you can model how to resolve arguments appropriately for your daughter. You might find additional tips on how to move forward in When Your Home is a Battle Zone: How to Resolve Conflicts Peacefully . Take care.

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport guest123123123 We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about the fight you had with your parents the night before a big test.  Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the More advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role.  Another resource which might be more useful to you is the https://www.kidshelpphone.ca/Teens/Home.aspx, which you can reach by calling 1-800-668-6868, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with kids, teens and young adults everyday about issues they are facing, and they can help you to look at your options and come up with a plan.  They also have an option to communicate via live chat which you can find on their website.  We wish you the best going forward. Take care.

@Confused daughter

We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

sharing your story. I am sorry to hear about the issues you are having with

your mom.  Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more

effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to

those outside of a direct parenting role.  Another resource which might be

more useful to you is the Boys Town National Hotline, which you can reach by

calling 1-800-448-3000, 24/7. They have trained counselors who talk with kids,

teens and young adults everyday about issues they are facing, and they can help

you to look at your options and come up with a plan.  They also have

options to communicate via text, email, and live chat which you can find on

their website, http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/

We wish you the best going forward. Take care.

badmom I have been defeated by my 16 year old son.  I cant handle the arguing, the laziness, lack of respect for others and things.. he ruins his stuff, punches holes in new house,recklessly smokes in room (this just after we had a house fire) (burn holes in matress to prove More it) demanding supper, do nothing and expect everything, get in to trouble and some how its my fault.. gives people the "poor me's"  like how he has to stay home and clean house and babysit siblings while we go out...bahaha... don't remember the last time we had a date night.. and clean... even funnier... let him babysit.. no way... he picks on his 5 and 7 year old siblings, call them down, gets jealous over their finger painting for petes sake.  its been years of fighting.. trying to talk sense into this kid. constant yes I love you or I wouldn't care what you do, tired of him running to grandma and making me out to be a monster,, twisting stories to make him look like the victim.  The stress level at home is at its max.  The little ones should not be around this.  If this was my husband causing so much stress, I would get a divorce.  But it is my son, my baby... so I think I have decided its time to go live with grandma.  I will take the role of bad mom if that is what it takes to make my kids lives easier and happier.. all 3 of them,  He is obviously not happy here... soooo as hard as it is going to be.. I think its time .. even just a few months.. she is only like 2 minutes away.. we will still see eachother... I dunno what to do... at my wits end.  I know he is going to say that I don; t love him... well I do.. but I have 2 others that I love too and I think its time I start thinking about whats good for them , not just about him all the time.

I am sorry you and your mom are having these conflicts. It’s

not uncommon for parents and teens to disagree on how much privacy the teen

should have. While it may seem over reaching to the teen, from a parent’s

perspective, it usually is more about trying to protect their child from harm.

I can hear how upset you are with how things escalated between you and your

mom. It can be tough to know what to do after an argument. We are limited in

the advice we are able to offer you because the focus of our website is on

helping parents develop more effective ways of addressing acting out behavior.

There is a website that offers support for teens and young adults – http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/. This is a

website developed specifically to help young people who are facing challenges

in their lives. It is staffed with counselors specially trained to work

directly with teens on developing strategies for working through difficult times.

They offer support in many different ways – by phone, e-mail, text, and online

chat. You can call them 24/7 at 1-800-448-3000 or visit them online at http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/Pages/home.aspx.

I appreciate you writing in and sharing your story. I hope you will reach out

to this valuable service and share your story with them. They are in the best

position to help you find solutions to the problems you are facing. Best of

luck moving forward. Take care.

Many parents describe similar challenges where a teen seems

to do well outside of the home, yet when asked to do something at home, it is a

completely different scenario.  As Sara Bean describes in her article http://www.empoweringparents.com/angel-child-or-devil-child-does-your-childs-behavior-change-from-school-to-home.php, acting out

at home can have big payoffs for kids and teens in terms of gaining

power.  Something that can be helpful in a situation like this is for you

and your husband to http://www.empoweringparents.com/My-Blended-Family-Wont-Blend-Help-Part1-How-to-get-on-the-same-page-with-your-spouse.php about your expectations and how you will respond

effectively if he is not meeting those.  Once you are in agreement, you

can talk with your son about the rules, and how you will hold him accountable

if he is not following them.  For example, you might set a rule that there

is no verbal abuse, and if he becomes verbally abusive, he will lose his cell

phone until he can go for 3 hours without being abusive.  I recognize how

difficult this must be for you; please be sure to check back and let us know

how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

my wife and my daughter argue over small thing and they always escalate into screaming arguments...I try and stay away, but most time get pulled into the full blown cat fight..I feel like I have to take sides and stop the fighting to get  them communicating... because it always seems like one started it or one continues to escalate it... nether of them can successfully stop the fight... and it will linger for days / weeks...

Is it wrong to try and stop the fight ?

Is it wrong to take an 18 years old side over their mother if I think the mother is wrong ?

Is it wrong to reverse of not enforce restrictions I think were placed by spouse over a fight they started or escalated ?

difficult when you are constantly being pulled into arguments between your wife

and daughter, and feel like you have to take sides.  While it’s normal to

want peace in your home, keep in mind that by continuing to act as a referee or

take sides in arguments between your wife and daughter, it may actually make

fighting more likely in the future.  We also encourage trying to present a

united front with your wife as much as possible.  This does not mean that

you cannot disagree with your wife, or how she chooses to address a

situation.  Instead, we recommend addressing these disagreements in

private during a calm time.  Debbie Pincus has more information on this in

another article, http://www.empoweringparents.com/when-parents-disagree-10-ways-to-parent-as-a-team.php.  Thank you for writing

in; please be sure to check back and let us know how things are going for you

and your family.  Take care.

Thank you for writing in.  As you noted in your email

to your daughter, we all say hurtful things out of anger that we don’t mean

from time to time.  By sending her an http://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/accountability-and-responsibility/should-you-admit-you-are-wrong-to-your-child/, you are taking steps to move forward past this incident,

and focusing on where you have control.  The next steps are ultimately up

to your daughter because at 18, she can decide where she wants to live, whether

that is with you, her father, or on her own.  You also can’t “make” her

talk to you.  You can really only control yourself, and your own actions

by taking responsibility for yourself and doing what you can to keep the doors

open to communication with her.  Another part of this process can also

include focusing on taking care of yourself.  Your self-care plan can be

anything you wish, from calling a supportive friend or family member when you

are feeling stressed, to engaging in an activity you enjoy.  You might

also think about what you might want to do if your daughter decides not to keep

the original plans for Mother’s Day.  I realize that there are no easy

answers here, and I appreciate your reaching out to us for support. 

Please be sure to check back with us and let us know how things are going for

you and your daughter.  Take care.

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport Thank you for your quick response.  I am having a very difficult time of "letting go", waiting for her decision, and giving space. What else is there to do, just wait?  Her father is not being helpful. We have been separated for 10 months, which has been difficult, but in the last few months, my daugher has been speaking to me about her feelings and I felt like we were just beginning to get settled.  

I did send an additional email that said the following:  Do I just leave it at that?

"I’m sorry for saying the comments about friends and prom.  It was a horrible comment to make when I was angry, hurt, and frustrated.

I know you feel angry and hurt after our fight. So do I. When we both feel better, I hope we can talk about it and then move on."

@zumbamom RebeccaW_ParentalSupport 

Thank you for checking back with us.  You are not alone

in feeling that this is the hardest part: the waiting and giving your daughter

space to calm down and respond.  It is crucial, however, that your

daughter (and you) has the time and space needed to calm down, so you can talk

about what has happened in a neutral, objective way and make a plan for how to

move forward.  I encourage you to use this time to focus on taking care of

yourself, as well as thinking about how you might handle a similar situation in

the future in a more effective way.  I understand how challenging this can

be, and I hope that you will continue to check in with us.  I wish you and

your daughter all the best moving forward.


What if it is the same situation but w/a 16 yr.old instead of 18? I haven't seen or talked w/my daughter since Sat. & it's Wed. My fight got more physical she punched me in the face & I had to push her off. She called me a cu*t, B, psycho, & went on to say that I was just mad @ her dad for divorcing me. The fight started because we were arguing,  she told me to"calm the "F" down". So my fiance told her to "knock that shit off". She erupted by telling him to "f off". Said she hated it here & was never coming back. Then more happened after that.please help. I don't know what to do & my heart is broken.  She has never sd things like this before & we just back from a wk. @ Crater Lake.

It can be really challenging to

try to move on from an argument when your teen has left the home and refuses to

speak with you.  As long as your daughter is in a safe place, it can be

useful to take some time for both of you to cool off and calm down from your

argument.  Once you are calm, it can be helpful to reach out to her via

phone, text, email or other private forum and let her know that you want to

talk with her about what happened.  If you do not know where your daughter

is or if she is in an unsafe place, I recommend contacting the police to see

what kind of assistance they might be able to offer you in returning your

daughter to your home. I recognize that this is a difficult situation, and I

also encourage you to follow my advice to the original commenter about focusing

on taking care of yourself at this time.  Please let us know if you have

any additional questions; take care.

I think it is awesome that you would like to take steps to

improve the current situation with your dad. Not getting along with a parent

can be tough to handle. I’m glad you have decided to reach out for help. Since

we are a website focused on helping parents develop more effective ways of

addressing their child’s behavior, we are a bit limited in the advice we can

offer. There is a website, however, that may be able to offer you help and

guidance. Your Life Your Voice is a website aimed at helping teens and young

adults deal with challenges they are facing in their lives. It is staffed by

specially trained counselors and offers many different ways of accessing

services. They have an online forum and chat, e-mail or text support, and also

a call in Helpline. You can access them 24 hours a day by calling

1-800-448-3000. You can also visit them online at http://www.yourlifeyourvoice.org/Pages/home.aspx.

I encourage you to check out the site to see what they have to offer. Good luck

to you and your father as you work through this challenge. Take care.

Responses to questions posted on EmpoweringParents.com are not intended to replace qualified medical or mental health assessments. We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline.

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healthy kids health center / healthy kids a-z list / how do i deal with my 14-year-old son? article

How Do I Deal With My 14-Year-Old Son?

What causes the “attitude” in teenage boys?

Strategies for dealing with your 14-year-old son, what to avoid when dealing with your 14-year-old.

dealing with your 14-year-old son

Raising teenage sons isn’t easy. The teenage years can be particularly challenging, both for you and your son. 

Age 14 is a time of huge change for boys. They’re getting a glimpse of adulthood and the freedom that comes with it, but they’re not mature enough yet to handle it. Their hormones are changing, their friends’ influence is stronger than ever, and they don’t want to talk to you about anything. They may be moody, secretive, or openly defiant and disrespectful. 

If you are experiencing failed attempts at communication and endless fights and wondering why your boy is so rebellious, rest assured that you are not alone. Dealing with a 14-year-old son requires patience, empathy, and compassion.

A 14-year-old boy’s behavior is by and large controlled by the hormonal and neurobiological changes that occur during puberty . On top of that, there is peer pressure, self-doubt, and the growing need for acceptance.

Your teenage son’s brain is also still developing. The prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for judgment, decision-making, reasoning, managing emotions, and controlling impulses, doesn’t fully mature until a boy reaches his mid-20s. That’s why your 14-year-old son gets easily frustrated with themselves and others, which may be expressed in emotional outbursts, impulsivity , and mood swings .

At this age, boys are also struggling for independence, and their friends becoming their trusted advisers, not their parents. This may cause your 14-year-old son to rebel against authority, including you. They may want to hide things from you and expect you not to interfere.

So how do you deal with your 14-year-old son? The following strategies may help.

argumentative 14 year old boy

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Why are teenagers argumentative?

The first thing that parents of argumentative teens should know is that it is normal and they are certainly not alone.

argumentative 14 year old boy

In fact, for the better part of a century, the literature has been referring to adolescence (roughly 12-18 years of age in Western countries) as a period of 'storm and stress'.

And while you can’t really prevent your teenager from being argumentative, you can better understand why they are behaving in this way, and how to more effectively communicate with them, and resolve issues.

A whole new world

We know that teenagers experience enormous physical, emotional, psychological, and social changes. It's a lot to happen in a small period, and for many, it's a tumultuous time. Intellectually, what's happening with young teenagers is that they're no longer literal, or what we call concrete thinkers. They have started to develop the ability to think in a more abstract and logical way.

What that means is that they start to see alternative explanations to different ways of doing things, and that includes testing out their own, independent ideas. This often results in 'talking back' – because they no longer really intrinsically believe that their parents’ way of doing things is the only way or the right way.

These arguments often come down to your child testing their new ideas, but also testing parental power.

When children are 8 or 10, parents can say things like – 'Because I know best' or, 'Because I said so'. With teens that often won’t cut it! They want a better explanation; they want to know why their ideas aren't as good, and this often leads to quite heated debates.

Importantly, when children go through puberty, the hormones that are released in their bodies actually change the parts of their brain that involve emotion. This biological change makes them typically more emotional than an adult or a child, and that includes the way they react to things.

However, the parts of the brain that help them deal with or regulate their emotions don’t develop until late teens/early adulthood. This means they frequently feel a variety of intense emotions but they don’t yet have all the tools to deal with them.

Know the triggers

Some parents will say that any simple conversation turns into an argument with their teen! Again, that can be normal. These arguments often come down to your child testing their new ideas, but also testing parental power. Teenagers are trying to take more control of their lives, be more assertive, and test the boundaries.

We know that during adolescence, friends become everything, and teenagers often want to spend time with their friends; they want to do the things their friends are doing; and they want to go where their friends are going. However, this mismatch between what parents permit, and what a teenager wants to do, is often a huge source of conflict.

Think about it from your child’s perspective – they have new ideas about how to do things, and they want to put those into practice. It’s not about being argumentative, per se, it’s about them taking more control (and yes, responsibility), rather than just having their parents make those decisions on their behalf.

Top tips for resolving teen drama

Tip 1 – Stay calm

It’s very hard for a teenager to have a heated argument if the other person is not arguing back. It might be a challenge, but you need to role model the behaviour you expect from your child during these interactions.

It’s completely OK and healthy for a parent to say: “I can’t argue about this now. Let’s take some time to calm down, and we’ll discuss it later.”

Tip 2 – Choose your battles

Rather than raising every small thing that frustrates you about your teen’s behaviour, don’t be too concerned about the typical eye rolls, bored looks and mumbled speech, and concentrate on the things that are important and that are really going to matter, such as safety. Let the small things go.

Tip 3 – Involve your teen in decision making

Giving your teenager a sense of ownership about what happens to them is a really good way to avoid confrontation. Obviously, this is only appropriate at certain times, but when it is, explore it. If the decision concerns something that you think your child can handle, let them do it.

This might involve letting them do something in their own way, and not the way that you would want it done. Such gestures can give teenagers a greater sense of ownership of their lives.

Keep this mind next time your teen seems to be arguing with you for no reason, and see if you can turn the argument into a constructive conversation.

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Kyle received his Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Texas Tech University. As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Kyle has worked in a variety of clinical settings over the last seventeen years. His career has focused on treating both boys and girls, with specialization in trauma, processing difficulties, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, OCD and difficult family systems.

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Kyle Gillett, co-founder

Parenting For Brain

How To Handle When Your Child Argues With Everything You Say

By: Author Pamela Li Pamela Li is an author, Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Parenting For Brain. Her educational background is in Electrical Engineering (MS, Stanford University) and Business Management (MBA, Harvard University). Learn more

Posted on Last updated: Dec 21, 2022 Evidence Based

| The challenges of dealing with an argumentative child | Causes | 10 Tips on how to deal with an argumentative child |

Having a child who argues with everything you say can be draining. Many kids (and adults) enjoy a good debate from time to time.

But when every conversation turns into an argument, when they have to have the last word every time, or when the constant arguments are accompanied by rude talk or bad behavior, it can wear down the most patient of parents.

You may wonder how to deal with an argumentative child without breaking their spirit.

5 year old boy argues with dad. dad thinks my child disagrees with everything i say

The Challenges Of Dealing With An Argumentative Child 

The biggest challenge of dealing with argumentative kids is that parents and other family members are constantly drawn into a lot of debate. 

Instead of talking to the child in a calm and collected manner, interactions are tense, fretful, and probably pretty loud. Soon, harsh words are exchanged, and both parent and child’s feelings are hurt.

Repeated confrontations will eventually leave everyone feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, damaging the parent-child relationship in the long run.

Overly argumentative behavior is a common symptom of children with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) .

Why does my child argue with everything I say

Let’s take a step back and do some digging.

When your child wants to argue with you about everything and most likely wants to win every single time, what do they really want?

Is it really about more screen time or fewer house chores ?

Lack of autonomy in life

Most likely, children who argue or engage in power struggles want to be in control.

Consider the bigger picture. 

During the course of a day, what does your child have control over? 

Could you imagine what it would be like if your child switched places with you and all those things in your life were controlled by someone else?

Children often use arguments and negotiations to cope with the lack of control over certain aspects of their lives ​1​ .disag

Whenever a child disagrees with everything you say, then chances are they don’t have control over anything, and children arguing is their attempt to gain some autonomy.

Argumentative role model

It’s also possible that your child has learned this behavior from a role model.

A number of studies have shown that children learn through imitation ​2,3​ .

Do you and your spouse often argue over everything?

Are you constantly fighting in front of your child?

Do you have an argumentative relative, friend, or neighbor?

Other adults’ argumentative behavior can also have a significant impact on your child. 

What about your child’s friends?

Kids who learn from adults in their lives will teach similar behavior to other kids. Does your child have friends like that?

boy fights with dad my 3 year old toddler fights me on everything

10 Tips on how to deal with an argumentative child

If your child is argumentative, here are a few tips for dealing with them effectively. 

Find out the root cause

The best way to deal with a defensive argumentative child is to find out the underlying cause.

The next time your child starts to argue, the first step is to take a deep breath to center yourself.

Then, ask them, “You seem to enjoy arguing over everything.”

“Is it because you believe that I never let you do things the way you want?” 

Or, “Is it because you are inspired by someone who argues a lot?”

Calling them out calmly in a respectful tone of voice would probably make them stop and think before jumping into an argument reflexively.

You can then go on to address the actual cause of the disagreement.

Examine your boundaries

Pushing toward autonomy is one of the key psychosocial developments of children ​4​ .

If your child argues all the time because they feel controlled, reexamine your house rules.

Parents often think that they should limit or tell their children what to do so that they do not make mistakes.

Sometimes, however, learning from the natural consequences can be more effective. If it’s not a safety or health issue, let your child decide to practice making decisions.

It is impossible to learn to walk without falling. It is also impossible to learn to make good decisions without making a few mistakes. Give your child the chance to refine their judgment.

Hold a family meeting to discuss setting new rules and agree on them.

The next time they start arguing, remind them of the agreement.

Set essential boundaries

Developing the house rules together will reduce the power struggle and arguing. 

As a general rule, important things concerning safety and health issues are non-negotiable.

Set clear ground rules and firm boundaries around these issues.

Tell your child they must follow your decisions on these essential items because you love them very much and you want to protect them (not control them) .

For other things, you can discuss and negotiate appropriate boundaries.

Things like daily routines should be decided and agreed on in advance so there will be no arguing when it is time to leave the house in the morning.

Decide on a time limit so that if negotiation is necessary at the moment, you will discuss it for that amount of time and then move on.

Discuss when is an appropriate time to negotiate and when not to. For example, if you may be late for a flight, it is not a good time to argue.

Be A Good Role Model 

Parents’ behavior profoundly impacts their children even into adulthood. It’s therefore important that parents are mindful of their reactions when dealing with argumentative children.

Take a moment to reflect on how you react to your child’s arguing.

Are you doing the same things and engaging in the same type of behavior? 

If so, you’ll probably find that you’re in a no-win situation. 

As an adult, the change begins with you. 

To turn things around and right the ship, you must be a good role model and set an example for your child by showing them how to communicate effectively and respectfully.

Limit bad influence

If other adults or children are the cause of your child’s bad behavior, limit exposure to the bad role models.

Talk to your child about why you don’t want them to be around those people.

If these are family members, speak to them about the influence they have on your child.

son rides on dad shoulders my child disagrees with everything i say

Explain your good reasons

Arguments occur when both sides believe their reasons are better than the others’. 

If you are telling your child what to do, make sure you have very good reasons.

“Because I said so” won’t do.

As parents, we always want the best for our children.

We may know that we’re making a particular decision for the best interests of our child, but our child may not know (or understand) as much as we do. 

For example, you want them to stop constantly arguing over everything.

Let your child know that you want them to stop the vicious arguing because it affects you, the family and the relationships.

Moreover, No one enjoys constant conflict.

A habitual arguer suffers in the social arena, too, for lack of social skills.

So, this habit is not good for them, whether they do it inside or outside of the house.

But if you don’t have a good reason for asking your child to comply, or if your reason isn’t as good as your child’s, consider re-examining why you insist on doing things your way.

Pick your battles.

Listen to their reasons

Everyone (kids and adults alike) becomes argumentative when they don’t feel heard. 

A child who feels that way will likely resort to what they know best to assert their own opinion.

Take the time to ask questions and listen to your child’s point of view. 

Active listening shows your child that you care about their opinion.

You may even find out that their strong opinion is actually backed up by good reasons.

Focus on your (good) reason, not on being right

You need two people to argue. Your child cannot do this all by themselves.

When you insist that you are right all the time, there will always be arguments.

Emphasize that you make decisions based on their best interests.

Don’t focus on who has the right way. 

Make it clear that your decision shows that you care for and love them.

How motivated your child is to do what you ask them depends on the kind of relationship you share with them ​5​ .

If your child feels your love, they are more likely to comply with your request. But if you have a strained relationship due to the constant arguments, you will have a hard time convincing them.

Give Them Options

Sometimes your best bet to avoid difficult situations is to give them options. 

For instance, when your child argues about what to wear, you can easily sidestep the conflict by offering them two or three options. The choice is still theirs.

Teach respectful disagreements and problem-solving techniques

Teach your child to disagree respectfully and to find the best solution possible for both parties.

Conflict resolution skills like these are essential to your child’s future success .

son and mom works together to solve problems 6 year old does not argue about everything anymore

Final thoughts on kids arguing with everything

Fighting spirit in kids is not necessarily a bad thing.

Research shows that people with a strong personality tend to earn more and be happier at work ​6​ .

At the end of the day, we want our kids to be happy and successful.

Raising a spirited child with good behavior is all about teaching them how to ask for what they want respectfully.

* All information on parentingforbrain.com is for educational purposes only. Parenting For Brain does not provide medical advice. If you suspect medical problems or need professional advice, please consult a physician. *

Order my book Raising Amazing now!

Monica Swanson

When Your Kid Argues about Everything {5 tips}

I’ll be the first to admit:  I find something likable about a kid that has an opinion.  I appreciate  a kid who knows what they want…or don’t want…and knows how to stand up for what they think is right.

Maybe this has a little to do with the fact that I was one of those kids growing up.

And it is true:  There are plenty of positives about a strong-willed kid.  Children prone to opinions and arguing often grow up to be great leaders.  They are likely to stand strong  in their convictions, and might have an easier time resisting peer pressure.  They often grow up to be successful in the things they pursue.

Josiah and Luke

But if you have a kid that is prone to arguing in your own family. ..the cute and admirable elements can quickly fade away, only to be replaced by  pulling your hair out in frustration. 

I would know.

We’ve got one such argument-prone kid in our family, and though I try not to name names, I will say that he is ten, full of personality, and he loves to surf.

Almost as much as he loves to argue.

Luke upside down

If you tell this kid to clean his room, he’ll say “But first I have to…” If you ask this kid to brush his teeth, he’ll say “Ok, but not until I finish…” If you offer to take him surfing, he’s likely to say “But I wanted to skate.” And trust me when I say that if you tell him the sky is blue, he’ll tell you it is more like turquoise or aqua.

It’s a running joke around our family.

But it’s kinda not funny.

Learning respect and submission are an important part of growing up.  As a Christian, I am concerned that a kid who gets by constantly arguing with his parents will also have trouble submitting to God and His ways. And you can imagine the potential problems a habitual arguer might face if they carry it into adulthood;  I’m thinking bosses and spouses for starters.

The bottom line is that a kid who argues too much is not showing respect or humility, and these are two very important qualities for a kid to learn.  And sadly, arguing with just about everything is easily  habit-forming.  Some kids start to argue before they even know what you just said. (I think I can see a few of you nodding with me out there…)

Therefore, I am personally on a mission to teach my particular child to respect his parents, submit to authority, and still maintain a healthy dose of spunk.

So  here’s what I’ve come up with, and then I hope you’ll share five more of your own.  (and please hurry. :))

Kids Who Argue: Tips for Survival

1.  Keep Perspective.

Remind yourself that the same quality that causes your child to argue too much will likely make them strong adults and good leaders.  (note:  You may not want to let them in on this secret right away.  Such disclosure often does not work to your advantage.)

2.  Sit down and chat about things.

Let your son or daughter know that arguing with their parents is a habit that really needs to end.  Tell them that even if they believe that they are one hundred percent right, the issue is one of respect.  You are their parents and they need to listen and submit to the things you say.  This applies whether they are seven or seventeen.  There is a place for discussion (see #3) but the general rule needs to be submission and respect.  This rule alone can remove a lot of debating, AND second guessing yourself.

3.  Make an Appeal rule.  

Offer your kid the chance to “appeal” after a certain amount of time.  Offering an appeal will help remedy the “habitual” side of arguing, and will make it easier for your kid to bite their tongue when they are just dying to challenge you.  Kids need to feel heard, and their opinions should matter.  Give them a chance to think through things, and then when everyone is in a good state of mind, sit down and hear them out.  I suggest choosing  a standard amount of time between argument and appeal, and stick with it the best you can.  Kids will feel most affirmed and secure if they know that there is a fair system in play. **Note:  I use this for big decisions, but not for daily things like chores and doing homework.  (Oh but believe-you-me, they still try . 🙂 )

4.  Establish set consequences for arguing.

If arguing has been happening for any length of time, it most likely won’t be going away easily.  It is most wise to expect it, and be ready when the moment happens.  It is easiest to come up with one or two specific consequences that your child knows will be waiting if and when they decide to challenge you unnecessarily.   Perhaps one warning/reminder is reasonable .  THEN:  Dole out consequences with a  smile and strong back bone.  Losing a video game privilege or assigning an extra chore might be a good start.   The key:  Call them on it.  Every.  Single.  Time…Nip it in the bud and let the consequences be painful enough that the thrill of the argument suddenly isn’t so thrilling.   (PS.  I did a short  VLOG last summer about having consequences in place to help decrease anger in parenting.  You might find that helpful. )

5.  Reward obedience.

Take note of the positives!  Make sure to notice it when your child does obey quickly.  Simply telling them how much it helps you and what a blessing it is to have them cooperating will encourage them to keep it up.  When they experience the peace and unity that obedience will bring, they might just want to begin a new habit.  (or so we can hope!)

Your turn to share!  Do you have a child prone to arguing?   (Maybe two or three of them?)  Have you learned any good tricks or tips to share with the rest of us!?  Please join the conversation!

argumentative 14 year old boy

With Aloha, Monica

PS  The kid in the pictures may or may not be the kid in the story.  And yes, he gave me full permission to name him here.  (Actually he used it as a negotiating tool to get something he wanted… haha.  I’m not kidding!) 🙂

With Aloha, Monica

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I was eager to hear your thoughts on an arguing child. However, I quickly lost that urge to learn about your opinion when you made the comment about “worrying he wouldn’t be able to submit to god” … all I can say is that I hope he continues to be contrary and argumentative at least in regards to the god stuff. You expect your children to be honest and kind and comply to your requirements etc.. Yet you happily deceive them with Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, and god … that’s called hypocrisy

Yes, there are things more powerful than all of us…and if kids don’t realize that, they are in for a world of hurt.

Santa Claus? Did you hurt yourself reaching that far?

We are experiencing this. Our son is 9. If he doesn’t win an argument, he starts crying and has a meltdown!! How do we help control this emotion?

I would suggest that you patiently redirect him, teach (show, model to) him the right way to respond, (role playing and practice can help!) and then giving consequences if he does not heed your correction. Find stories that show kids not winning but having winning attitudes. Teach character! 🙂 You’ve got this!! Don’t give up.

Hi! Thanks for the read! I have a very very argumentative, strong willed 4 year old Taurean son. Believe me he is definitely the bull! He knows what he wants and likes to voice his opinions constantly. He will literally argue everything. He even thinks he knows stuff he doesn’t as if he is a teenager already. It is exhausting and frustrating and some days I really do feel like pulling my hair out or hiding away in the cupboard. Thanks for the tips! We will try anything to teach him respect but I just feel like he doesn’t understand yet what it actually means to just listen and obey your parents. It’s definitely tough!

Hello, I have a very smart strong-willed 5 year old boy. His dad and I are at our whits end with not listening being mean to his brother and when we try to discipline him, he spirals out of control and calls us bullies and he can’t calm himself down. This will sometimes last 2 hours. There has got to be a easier way. Help one (now grey haired momma)

aww, I am so sorry, Stephanie. I wish there was one, easy answer for you, but there are so many factors that might be playing a role here. Have you read my book, Boy Mom, yet? That’s where I would start. 🙂 If so, let me know and I will try to offer some more suggestions! Praying for you now!

Connection is key. More love, patience and grace to affirm connection may be helpful. Correction is obviously needed but is definitely more effective if lots of connection and love is present. Not in anyway implying it isn’t present. I am a mom of five and whenever bad behavior spikes I take a moment to evaluate if maybe their love tank is running low and that’s why they are acting up and not responding well to correction. Kids with the most need for love ask for it in the most unloving ways sometimes. Best of luck! <3

I have a 10 year old niece. She doesn’t have her father or mother living with her, she stays with my parents. She has been diagnosed with bi polar and ADHD. She does go to counseling. I have tried talking softly and rationally to her as yelling only makes her shut down and yell back. Though talking doesn’t help either, she completely ignores everything that is being said with this rather irritating “whatever” attitude. She barks orders to my mom, and literally fights her on doing anything, something as small as putting something back in the fridge. I discipline by taking things from her like iPad/ iPhone etc, but it never sticks. The fighting is consistent. I don’t live with them, and she does behave better when I’m there, I just don’t feel my parents have the energy for her type of behavior problems (both are in their early 70s) and she knows this. Takes advantage. Any advice would be appreciated.

Hi! My adopted daughter sounds very similar to your niece. We found that a skilled attachment therapist is fabulous for helping her deal with the loss of her biological parents and dealing with the reality that she’s not being raised by them. It’s helped even out the behavior issues a TON.

Hi Monica, great post! I clicked the link to your VLOG to check out the consequences video and got a broken link. Could you check this? I’d really love to check it out 🙂 TY!!

Hi Lee, Thank you so much. I’m sorry about that — I’ll look into it. Wondering if in one of my “Clean-ups” i might have removed the Vlog. 😬 I’ll get back to you if I can find it and put it back up there! blessings and thanks. xo

Hi there! My question is…how do you respond (my son is 8) when they argue? Specifically your first/immediate response? He argues…do you say “oh honey, we don’t speak that way” or do you even respond to it at all and go straight to “go to your room”, “ no screens for the entire day”?

Oh wow, great question Michelle. I wish there was one easy answer, but i think this will depend a lot on their tone, your relationship, and what the arguing is about…I’ll give an example from just today with my now 11 year old son. He asked to open some special bread (Naan bread, which is so yummy) to just snack on, which I had told him I am saving for our dinner tonight. I said “no, I told you yesterday that we are saving it for tonight” and before I had finished he busted in loudly saying “But it’s just ONE PIECE and they won’t go stale before dinner by opening…” and — to be honest — this kind of argument has often worn me out so that I just say “OK, have one.” (ugh!) but today I put up my hand and said “Stop arguing right now or when we all eat them tonight, YOU WILL be the only one NOT TO GET ONE. And I mean it!” Then with a cheerful tone I added, “But there are granola bars in the pantry that I’m sure will be a great option.” He did not go on any longer. A moment later I pulled him aside and said “I really want you to know that the point about the bread was not whether or not you had a good argument, it was that you continued to challenge me after I said no.” He nodded and said “I understand,. Sorry mom.” THIS was not a typical response to be honest, but we are really working on this with him, so it has come up a lot and he has had some very practical consequences so he knows I mean business. I hope something in there helps. Staying calm. Giving practical consequences. Talking about the problem when you are not IN the middle of the problem…these are all helpful to me! 🙂 xo

Thank you 🙏 I am going to use the quick hand raise and “STOP right there”. That’s a great plan. Then offer another option. Will let you know how things transpire!

I hope that is helpful and of course my example was very random (just the most recent thing I had dealt with the day I read your comment 😉) but I do think if you can stop the arguing in the moment. Give your child a moment to calm down and think through their argument (decide if it is really necessary) and show you respect in the meantime, you will be creating a much healthier pattern. We are honestly a work in progress here, and some of this is definitely personality type. We can hope that they will benefit from their strength later! 😉

This is such a timely article Monica! I have a 10 year old, an almost 6 year old, and a 14 month old…all boys. I’m pretty sure I have a bunch of “first” borns because of their age gaps 😆 🤪🤯

My 10 year old is our negotiator. I’m in the process of helping him to see just how much he argues back. And I’ve not done my best job at correcting this enough. #momguilt #nomore

I’ve been seeking the Lord deeply in this issues, so I can better server my smaller two in this also.

We live in the south so “Yes ma’am” is an important phrase for us. I’ve recently given my boys “Yes ma’am marks.” They get to put a mark on the dry erase board when they give me a polite “yes ma’am” instead of arguing. These marks count as one minute each towards their electronic time on Friday’s. For instance, my oldest get 30 minutes a day to play Minecraft. If he got 10 “yes ma’am” marks that week, on Friday, he gets to add those 10 minutes to his thirty , so he gets 40 minutes total of Minecraft playing time.

It’s not a perfect system, but it is helping them to be more motivated to just says “yes ma’am” instead of arguing back.

Thank you SO much for this article. It helps to motivate me and to also show me that I’m not doing as terrible of a job at this mom thing as I think I am sometimes.

P.S. Your recent podcast with Liz Busby was pure GOLD! It helped my husband I and I be confident that we are ok with our oldest playing Minecraft, for a small amount of time each day, and supervised. I can be on your same thought process “No video games!” But this was a good decision for our family to let him play. Little brother likes to watch and this mama even created her own Minecraft world which is extremely comical for all of us 😆

Thanks Monica. Truly.

This is all so good!! Thank you so much, Hannah. 🙂

Sorry about the typos, folks.

Omg, Monica. You nailed it w the arguing. I researching all sorts of opposition/defiance disorder stuff and none of that applies. Mine is simply the Olymlic Gold Medalist of turning everything into an argument, debate, challenge. It is bad. The worst I have ever seen, with more calculated strategy and skill than you can ever imagine. Can we chat sometime?

Will definitely try these suggestions as I’m feel like it’s making me sad now. No means no and that is the main issue I have with my 16yr old son right now. Plus his whole attitude and the way he talks to his older sister and me.

Luciana– I am so sorry. It’s hard at 16 b/c they are feeling so grown up though they really aren’t…SO parenting them looks different now than when they were young. I hope you can check out my Character Training Course while it is on sale (doors close on Monday, June 7) If you aren’t familiar with it– check out the course page: monicaswanson.com/character-course. I wish you the best and I know it’s hard. (The course will help!) XO

Oh. My. Gosh!! This is my 5 yr old daughter! Something to say about EVERYTHING! Something has got to change soon because it is tiring! I would love to hear more ideas. Getting ready to put a plan in place.

I just want to say thank you Monica! I will attempt some of these tricks. The consequences usually doesn’t work. I have a 10 yr old daughter. Her arguing and negative attitude has gotten unbearable and she is so literal. She has been arguing since she was in 1st grade. I am thinking of counseling as her father, who was only in and out of her life for her first year but hasn’t been since, was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and ADHD, so I worry she might be as well. She is so smart and gets good grades and doesn’t behave badly at school so there isn’t a problem there. But just today she had an angry meltdown with my mom while I was at work because she hates our apartment and our living situation. I’m a single mom, my daughter and I share a bedroom. I mean shoot, I don’t like it either, but I can’t afford to change the situation. I really hope your techniques work.

If you dismiss her meltdown over her living situation then she will dismiss you, too.

At least show that you are trying and affirm her feelings first. She’s only 10 and needs to have some hope things can eventually get better.

I have a boy that sounds exactly like the one you mention. No good tricks yet. Punishment and reward has worked some.

Thanks for the perspective of the parent in this situation. I’m the kid in this scenario.

Glad you’re here. I hope you have good communication with your folks! Thank you for commenting!

OH my goodness! Its like you wrote about my son!! I needed this and from a Christian’s perspective is even better! Thank you! I will be checking out your referenced posts and looking at more! So thankful I found this!

What do you say to a 5 year old who says “Jesus makes the rules” in attempts to not listen. How would you go about explaining that one. Its stumped me but I usually just say “and jesus wants you to obey your mommy and daddy”.

Say “Ok, well let’s look at the rules Jesus made for us.” Then go over the 10 commandments, obey your parents scripture, spare the rod scripture, and the 2 greatest commandments. Then teach them the beatitudes, the lord’s prayer, and the fruits of the spirit. Then set up guidelines in your home with scripture as the base.

A quick background. I had And raised 3 boys. They went through a lot in the early years, my husband was not a nice person. They went through a divorce with me and then a remarriage. I always let them choice their opinions but I only had one and he was cursed with the “middle child syndrome “. After they were grown I ended up raising my granddaughter. That didn’t turn out so well. Both parents mostly abandoned her and she never stopped trying to (as she saw it) make them love her. Now I’m raising her daughter (let’s just say my granddaughter is ill and cannot raise the child). My great granddaughter is now 7 years old and loves to argue about everything. I’ve had her since she was a year old except for a few months when her parents called a truse And she lived with then when she was about 5 years old, but that didn’t work out. She loves both her parents but she doesn’t like the things they do, one of which is argue and yell a Lot. You would think that would make her Not argue, but that’s not the case. She didn’t argue with us until she spent time with her parents. As for what we do when she argues with us, we use the same ideas as you mentioned with one addition. That addition is me. My husband has a hard time not arguing back with her and sometimes yelling. I seldom raise my voice but when she gets argumentative I “change” my voice. Raising 3 boys made me realize you have to have 2 voices, a nice voice to exchange things on a normal level and a Stern voice when you have to make a point as to who is th parent and who is the child and who will talk (not argue and who will listen and do what they are told. It works. She knows when I use my stern voice that I mean business and she stops talking and do what she was told. I never had my boys disrespect me, nor my granddaughter and I won’t start now with my great granddaughter. I’m really very easy on her. She has a lot on her shoulders for a child, but I want her to grow up to be a happy, well balanced, motivated adult and have manners, a since of self worth but not arrogance, and respect for others and I intend to see that she does. I’ve had several compliments on how well behaved, and sweet she is and I expect that to continue. BTW, I’m 72 years old and I believe in a lot of the old ways. 😊 You don’t need a paddle, you need the right mind set and determination. Have a beautiful life and raise the children to do the same.

I have 5 children, four of which are boys, and the middle two boys have been a struggle. I just wanted to ask if anyone has considered their children’s diet. My 10yo loves sugar, and when he gets too much in one day, or somehow gets artificial colorings from something he ate, he goes crazy. I’m talking, mean, agitated, anxious, picks fights, etc. I have picked up on this and made sure he stays away from most sugar and never has artificial colorings, and he has changed greatly for the better. He has become more patient, loving, respectful, and relaxed. Also, any multivitamin with high levels of B vitamins cause the same problems. I have experienced this myself also while trying to take extra B-complex vitamins to boost metabolism…made me agitated, easily angered, and very uncomfortable!

Another thing I’ve found that has helped is helping them see things through the eyes of others and of course prayer. 🙂

I need to ask, did you talk to your child’s pediatrician and a psychologist, if the diet of your 10 year old is actually causing that much problem for you and him then there is something wrong and a trained professional who can actually sit down and talk to you and him should be consulted right away.

Oh my goodness. Speaking of my 11 year old. And yes, that shows we didn’t nip it in the bud years ago. Seems to not help that it is very much an inherited trait, from the other side of the family. 😉 As hard as we’ve tried, he always seems to win and just get too many extra words out. I’ve been reading Boy Mom and love the two immediate consequence ideas. Since video gaming is rare in our house, having a set of unwanted extra chores on hand is perfect. I’ve already been compiling my list! I also LOVED the character building idea you used with your teenager and will be snagging that idea for the same child who if he isn’t arguing he isn’t talking! 🙂

As a retired teacher and the grandmother of a dyslexic granddaughter, this is a description of a child who has some learning differences. I would strongly suggest he is evaluated by a dyslexia professional. So many dyslexic children are not identified and continually struggle to get through a school day. They can be exhausted and discouraged and angry. You can get lots of information on line. Barton reading site might be a good place to start. This child needs some help.

Actually, I got your book, Boy Mom, for my daughter and started reading it before I sent it to her. I am really enjoying it and am learning a lot. Is there a section that I could read that applies to this problem? Thanks for answering my first text. I have suggested that my grandson might need to see a counselor, but she did not take to that suggestion. Anyway your book is great!

My 10 year old grandson argues about everything. He has decided he hates school and some mornings refuses to go to school. He won’t do his homework, even if the teacher gives them time in class. He got 2F’ and the rest F’s. He has been told he will be held back but he says he doesn’t care. If he has something taken away for not going to school, he cries then starts destroying his room. My daughter does not know what to do. I am going for Christmas and thought I could help if I had advice from you. Hope have time to reply. Thanks

Hi Kathy– wow, that sounds pretty extreme for a 10 year old…I’m so sorry for all of you. This might be good to sit down with a professional about. But meanwhile, have you/your daughter read my book, Boy Mom? The principles in there should be helpful, but again, this is pretty extreme case it sounds like, so don’t hesitate to seek help! 🙂 Blessings and I pray you’re holiday goes well.

I know I am late answering these 2 post, but I just want to share something. When my granddaughter was in 2nd grade her teacher said she wasn’t attentive in class and stared out the window a lot. She made terrible grades and said she hated school and was quitting as soon as she was old though. Her teacher thought she had ADHD. We took her to a health clinic and started her in therapy. Over the years things only got worse. She saw several doctors, was in 2 in patient facilities for treatment and when she was home she would do what the lady said her son does. She would not just argue but when she was let go to her room after one of her arguing and yelling spells, she would destroy it. She especially seemed to break things we had given her. Over the years she has been diagnosed as bi-polar, borderline personality order and other disorders, and the last I heard was diagnosed with skitso (spelled wrong I’m sure) borderline personality disorder. She is also a Narcissist. She is 32 now and a total mess. We’ve never been able to get a handle on her true needs, therefore I worry about her constantly. If your child is showing these tendencies, please get a professional therapist to see him. Maybe you will have better luck than we did. Maybe you can keep your child (and you) from living a life of constant grief and tears. May you be blessed.

Monica, thanks for taking the time to write this article. We have been down this road for many years with our youngest. He is an amazing kid that makes me proud every day but, oh my goodness! The arguing! These are all strategies we have implemented in different ways through the stages of his life but I swear, sometimes there is a lul, due to proper implementation, and then I relax, get sloppy, and bam it’s back with a vengeance. My brain was so fried after the week we’ve had I couldn’t put a coherent thought together, so Thank You! for the “best pratices” reminder. Wishing you and your dear ones much love and, the holy grail, peace. : )

My strategy to my one strong willed son was to tell him we we’re done done talking (and we talked later). Later in years, I found out that he said he “hated” it when I did this. This was mostly for my own sanity and if he kept talking, I ignored him. —This also took the challenge/control of the ‘fight’ away from him.

My grandson it’s out of control he is 11 years old and talks back to us all the time I’m afraid that we can lose sound true society I don’t want to see my grandson in the in jail or getting killed please we need help seriously God bless you concerned grandmother

So sorry Joann! I hope you can seek out help with your grandson. It sounds like he needs some serious boundaries and discipline, but there could be other factors as well (hard for me to know from a distance. ;)) So please seek some help through a school counselor, pediatrician, or even a Pastor at church. Praying your love and concern can make a difference in his life! (I believe it can!) Aloha

We have a 9 year-old grandson who fits this description. We suspect part of his problem is jealousy towards his little sister, who people are drawn to because she has so much going for her, and – at two years his junior – is even cuter. He has a love/hate relationship with her. Do you think it would be potentially helpful or harmful for his parents – in the course of implementing your suggestions – to tell him that they know there are many, many children who feel and act like he does? He may wonder himself, since the consequences of his behavior never work out well for him. Also, should his disagreeable behavior toward his sister be left out of any discussions of his argumentative behavior?

This is a great post! And I loved reading alot of the comments. Nice to know we are not alone! At this point we have tried everything. Our son is very ADHD….i am myself and was also a VERY argumentative child. But I too had to learn. And the lessons were not easy. I dont necessarily agree with alot of the disorder labels people “have”. The world has rotated and functioned for years without them. People still have to get up and function in Society in order to feed themselves….i have told my son it is not an excuse. Vikings would literally “get rid” of clan members that could not contribute like everyone else. We have tried everything and our sons arguing has gotten to the point where it was destroying our family. He is top of his class, excels in surfing, skating and basketball… and not to mention the most GORGEOUS boy ever…the world is his oyster .. and how could we all not be happy….we live in hawaii for crying out loud. But alas he finds something wrong with everything unless it is directly something he wants to do. We were taking video games and phone and dessert away as punishment. We took you tube away completely. Unfortunetly Video games actually seem to be very healthy in small doses for his intellgent mind but if he is on too long he turns into an awful person. If he doesnt have something to fidget with like his phone he is bouncing off the walls and talking nonstop. He will be getting on meds like I had to but that will not affect his arguing. We had annual passes to disneyland and he ruined every single time we went. He loves his dad so so much and or course my husbands first day off from work every week without fail our son argues everything. If everyone is hot he is cold, if he didnt come up with the activity he is bored. He is also one of those individuals (i think they call them idiot savants) who is very scary smart but has literally zero common sense. I mean to the point where he does dangerous things that have affected his baby sister. But then he will argue with us when he is corrected with a disgusting tone like we are the idiots! He is so lazy when it cones to helping around the house but if it involves something he likes he will do it with utmost perfection. He will run around the house with all his energy but if he is asked to help us he will drag his feet and complain. He has no problems with authority elsewhere. Other than just being a hyper kid he is relatively well behaved outside of our home. The difference between my childhood and his is I had twice the responsibility at half his age and I got slapped if i was disrespectful to my parents. I mean it does say “spare the rod spoil the child”. We have always taken the “lets talk it out” approach. But he doesnt believe my husbands threats. Finally my husband stood his ground and lost it (vocally not physically) on him. It set him straight for about a month….now he is back to his old ways….the day after we took him to dinner and bought him v bucks for fortnite to thank him for working so hard to be a wonderful part of this family! The next day! after you say the sky is blue he will literally say…actually only part of it is blue thats closest to our atmosphere….no thanks! Id rather have papercuts in my eyeballs that hear the rest of that sentence. We both commute for work and the second one of us is home he turns on the arguing. We are done. We have looked into giving him a better educational opportunity here at school because it is a boarding school. He would be home only on weekends. It would be amazing for his big smart brain and would give us a break because we quite frankly cant stand it. His punishments now are just being sent outside to sit on a chair everytime he argues because we literally cant deal with it anymore. Regardless of being a kid…..everyone has the right to be happy. And everyone is still responsible for their own behavior 10 or 100 years old. We have a 2 year old daughter who is easier and her well being and childhood is just as important. Its not fair that our son has not been able to utilize the tools he has been given in counseling or by us or school or sports to make himself a better person. I refuse to give up our whole families happiness for one persons flaws. It is not teaching anyone anything to let their negative behavior rule a household….that is why people end up divorced. We dont take drugs to cope and we will no longer coddle him because he has ADHD. There are peiple with many forms of disabilities that hold jobs and function to pay their bills and but food…it is wrong to trach anyone they can behave less because they “are less”. While I look forward to seeing how his strong personality could very much earn him an incredible job….probably a lawyer hahah 🤣….In the real world if he cant get it together and learn how to function he will end up alone. That is my biggest fear. Praying for you all! You are all wonderful strong mamas. Keep on keepin on and thank you for letting me rant!

This is my 9 yo exactly…down to the sitting outside part. I am a single mom and admittedly have a problem with enforcement, or even remembering consequences, so part of this is on me. Still, my little, whom I love so much, is intolerable.

I can relate….I read your comment and I can totally relate to your frustration. We finally took our son to have his IQ tested by a State Psychologist and he has helped us with guidance on how to deal with him. Usually kids with a high IQ, need mental stimulation, and they are not getting it through sports. They need engineering, robotics, coding, App games that are mentally stimulating like Hopscotch, Lumosity for kids. High IQ or gifted groups that have field trips in your area that they can relate to. They need to explore, learn and create. And they get bored extremely quickly. Just think of how fast his brain processes information compared to yours, by the time you finish saying something…he has already finished processing it and found a solution, yet he is still a child. We also put our son on ADHD meds with a neurologist, it helped him process multiple sources of information into one focus. Before Meds he would be all over the place and so would his body, jumping around and his mind would be working non-stop…from one thing to the next…now he can focus, and give one thing his full attention. He loves it and we are less exhausted. He listens more. He is still assertive because it’s his character, but nothing like he use to be. High IQ kids are usually destructive if they are not challenged. I hope this helps.

This sounds just like my son!! What have you found that helps?

Hi Monica, Thank you for that article, found when googling argumentative 10yr olds lol. My eldest of 4 is very disrespectful, argumentative and rude……only to his family though. I find hugs and straight talking solve a lot but I wont lie, my biggest fear is that hes learning this behaviour from his Father who shouts a lot. And even from me as we argue then because of our differing parenting ways (learned in our own families). I am petrified of the teen years to come with increasing arguments. Thank you for the tips, I will try them with both son and husband 😉

Thank you Ciara, and sorry for what you’re going through> Definitely look through my other “boy” posts as well, and my new podcast just launched today (see my BLOG ROLL for first 3 episodes.) I think you’ll find lots of support and encouragement there! xo Aloha!

Hi, Thank you for writing this blog! It sure helps me to know I’m not alone in the struggle with my almost 10 yr old son. I like most of your suggestions. Do you have any suggestions I could try to overcome my son’s general objections (to everything) that don’t require punishment? I use natural consequences and I follow the peaceful parenting method outlined by Dr. Laura Markham. Her books are: “Peaceful parents happy kids: how to stop yelling and start connecting” & “Peaceful parents happy siblings” Lotsa luv! Your sister in Christ,

Thank you. My beautiful and exhausting nine year old son is no doubt headed for a top leadership position. However, your eloquently written words have given me a new perspective and much healthier prescription to a more productive way.

All the best and I look forward to more.

Oh Elissa, I love it. Sorry it’s hard but yes — keep perspective! 🙂 Big hugs to you and please keep in touch! aloha

I am a stay at home mommy of 9 kids. Some are grown and some are home. I have a 5 year old and 3 year old twin boy/girl and they are so argumentative. Mostly the 5 year old and i believe the others fall in line with her. Any ideas for this age? How do I explain respect and submission on a level they get? I will be homeschooling starting this year any advice would help. Prayers welcome!!!

We have 3 boys- and you have described our mid kid to the letter. It’s from sun up until sun down. “Good morning, I’m going to get breakfast ready.. which 19,000 choices of cereal would you like? Oh, you don’t like cereal all of the sudden? Even though you ate it yesterday when I offered a bagel, and bagel’s were gross? So, today you’d like a bagel… cool. We’re out of bagels. You’d rather not eat? Okay, get dressed then. I put your favorite outfit on your bed! …That’s not your favorite anymore? Since when? Oh, you only wear jeans now? Well, that changes things…”

Don’t get me wrong, there are moments of pure greatness and he’s so sweet! He would never act this way at school, and has a very healthy respect for authority. He just has this very lawyer like quality and instinct to debate anything he can at home! Even if we’re about to do something that he loves to do! He’ll find a way to complain about anything. Ugghhh… needed this article. Always trying to figure out ways to handle this ‘stage.’ Though honestly, I feel like it’s been who is is for so long, it may just be his personality now.

Oh my gosh…I am not alone after all. I’m writing this while at the baseball field with my 12 year old son who is so disagreeable, he gives the evil eye to the Umpires and questions their calls with disrespectful gestures. At home when a kiddish mistake is pointed out to him instead of apologising he argues that it isn’t that bad, or he didn’t do it or or or 🤪. Drives me cra cra. Praying for wisdom on how to deal with him, chatting doesn’t really work, so consequences are implemented and praise when he makes good decisions but it hasn’t seemed to make a difference.

I really enjoyed reading the posted comments. I have two boys 14 and 17 yrs. It’s the 14yr old in our family who is the incessant arguer. Everything is so literal with him that it is hard to hold a basic conversation. It is the running joke in our family. I read in one reply…”Does it ever end?” Sadly, I can say it does not. But I do know you will begin to see great strengths develop from the arguing trait. Our 14 yr old is now on the speech and debate team of his HS and went undefeated in his first tournament! It can be put to good use and I foresee him doing great things with his future. Most nights, however, I am pulling my hair out as he has gotten quite insistent with a demanding tone. Because all parents are ignorant in a teens eyes our personal battle has morphed up a notch and I am trying to nip this disrespectful behavior in the bud. How to do this and honor his personality style? I like the “appeal” suggestion. I think that will help me keep my cool as a mom as well as he can really push my buttons.

My 8 yr old son exhibits much of this behavior. I get frustrated with him since it happens daily. I hope this will help. Lbvs

This is my 6 y/o Every. Single. Day!! It never stops. Morning, afternoon, after school, evening and bedtime. This sweet child of mine will never give up. I’m so exhausted with having to get on to him. I keep saying in the back of my mind, this too shall pass; but, after reading this blog, I feel like it’s going to take much longer to pass. I feel like I have tried everything in the book, to losing tv time or game time, going to bed early, etc…. Nothing works. I’m excited to try the appeal thing. So I am following this blog and hopefully I’ll see some more ideas and I will post if I come up with anything.

Omg this is my son too!!! Evey single thing that is said aloud he will argue!! Even the color of the sky. I found this post when I googled “a child that argues everything” I’m trying that’s tips now and wll report back. My son is 9 Someone please tell me this stops soon.

Oh yes I am super glad I read this post. My 9 year old son fights everything I ask or tell him to do. My 14 year old daughter never fought like my son. I pray it does stop one day but I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, because I love him I will stay on my Lexapro and get through this trial to make him an awesome adult.

Ha Ha Lexapro

I love this post! I have an 8 year old who argues AND is very negative. We have just started with trying a new method to correct the negativity and we have been shutting down the arguing as well. I will implement the ideas above into this plan. She is a wonderfully kind child, smart and has a huge heart. But we are so consumed with the negativity and constant arguing that we have a hard time enjoying the rest. I have hope, seeing we are not alone!

This is my reality too… negativity rules all and I’m struggling to handle it, it makes me so sad my beautiful daughter could be so negative when she has the world to be happy for. I’m currently laid in bed sad after a conversation that went I ruined the holiday because all I ever did was tell her off and that she can’t change her negativity it’s just the way she is

Hannah, you might find some help in the book titled “Raising grateful kids in a world of entitlement.” It is really good. (Look for it on amazon.) You need to give yourself grace and move forward, but do take the time to connect with you daughter and express your love and concern when it isn’t a stressful situation. The two of you will get through this but you absolutely want to help her overcome a negative spirit and to find gratitude and joy. If it doesn’t seem to get better you may consider counseling also. Blessings

Hi Monica. I live in Australia and I love reading your blogs. I have 2 boys 13 & 11 and a daughter 6. My oldest argues over everything. I’m interested to know more about how specifically the Appeal process works in yr family….. Also what re your rules around screen time? Thanks Kerri

My older kids weren’t mouthy and were more verbally ‘respectful’ than my younger two. I really dislike disrespectful ‘tone of voice’ from my kids and have to teach them when mom gets the last word. I have heard kids yell at their parents, curse at their parents, hit their parents in malls and schools and it shocks me that their parent tolerates those actions without consequence. I now have stated and hit home with ‘how to engage your opinion and consequences to doing so in a disrespectful way’. I do argue back – by ending the argument and stating that I get to decide if I want to partake and that there will be a consequence to the action. Usually, that means that something I have given is taken away or that something they want in the near future will be withheld. Having an opinion does not excuse mistreatment of someone that cares for you, feeds you, robes you and protect you. In real life, if you yell at someone, the consequence could be getting punched, getting yelled back at and much more. Teaching tools for communication is very important, and the first person kids learn that from is through their interaction with their parents.

This is a great article! I too have 1 challenging, argumentative child. After working through things with a pychologist starting when my son was 7 I learned 3 helpful things that Monica also reiterates above: 1. Stay calm, do not argue back 2. Feel free to take a break (if possible) for child (and mom) which serves to cool down AND to assert that you are still in charge. If you mirror their argumentative nature you are feeding it. 3. Consequences should equal the offense – meaning don’t take about tv for a week for a minor argument. I found that I was actually punishing too hard and creating more anger in both of us.

I’m adding prayer here too – it should be number 1. Lots of these comments describe ODD. Once I was able to understand it I was able to have some compassion and deal with it better. You probably don’t need a professional to diagnose this. There is a checklist you can google.

My son has made massive progress. Heaping love on him and searching hard to find him being kind and helpful is the best medicine. Some brains thrive on conflict and if possible finding a way to funnel that is awesome – Debate at school or hard problems such as Robotics, etc. Do not give up on these kids! : )

such a valuable comment, thank you so much!! 😉

I always loved your posts Monica. While I completely agree with respecting your parents, you keep using the word “submit.” I am not sure I agree with that. Do I really want to teach my kids that they need to do what I say even when they have their own views? Don’t think so. I think kids today have lost a respect that we had for our parents but I don’t think shutting them down is the way to gain it back. We often discuss our kids opinions and they often teach us when we have these discussions. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have to brush their teeth if they don’t feel like it but they certainly need to feel like they have been heard. I see too often, as adults what submission to parents did to them in the long run- they lost their voice and that’s not a good way to be.

Learnt fruitful tips today. Thanks a lot monica. Just keep your blogs flowing n let people like us quench our thirst. Take my love.

Thank you so much Rupa! Very encouraging words. 🙂 Much aloha to you!

Yes Yes have a grandchild who really thinks every bold thing as to your room to standing in a corner is nothing and comes out laughing say that don’t bother me🤔🤔He too likes to argue about everything. As a simple movie as to when he can watch it and wants to watch it now hes arguing with me now as I sit here he is 6. When you tell him to do something he will tell you no. So today started a new foundation I told him he could sit in his room all summer if he want to continue to argue with me his mom and his dad. And he does get rewarded when he does right. He just continues right where he left off . Please help!!!

I have a VERY argumentative / bossy almost 10 year old F.C. I often say she has ‘only child syndrome’ as a joke. She is so small and cute and her ‘spunky’ attitute is not cute anymore. We would like to adopt this child but I have 2nd thoughts because I am afraid after trying many things that nothing will help. I can see in the future that she may get worse (running away, being sexually active early etc) and we are now wondering if this is stuff we want to deal with. We have 4 of our own kids and they do not like her and they would if she would just STOP. I feel like crying. All the kids woke up this morning and it started immediately with her and the others so I took her fun day away. I have told all the kids in the house to STOP doing anything for her unless she asks with ‘please’. I told them I will never break this bad behavior unless everyone in the house participates.

Yikes! Im sure she is challenging but any child can be at any stage. If she were your blood im sure you wouldnt give her a second thought. This wouldnt be a question of keeping her or not, but a how to fix the behavior. I feel sad for her, she needs a family to work with her. She needs to feel excepted and not like a pet that can be returned. Maybe everyone should seek counseling as to becoming a family and dealing with child hood behaviors. Im sure this young girl has been through alot in her short life. I hope she is or will be recieving therapy. She should not be an expendable part of your family just because she does not fit the mold. I hope you all can work through this and give her the loving family she deserves.

Is it crazy to pay my kids to do things the first time they are asked without arguing? They are 6 and 7 and I think I can get away with putting a penny in their own jar……

Oh what a great question. I am sure there are many ways to look at this, but I’d say as a way to build new habits, putting a penny in a jar may be a great way to make things very practical and well, visual. 🙂 I wouldn’t do it forever, but for a while it might help establish new habits and show your kids how often they have the chance to obey. Of course ultimately we want our kids to obey because it is right, but why not try it for a time? Let me know how it goes. 🙂

i read this blog because I live in a household with my 10 yr old great grandson who is very argumentative. I wondered if there was anything new from when I raised children and stepchildren. I’m seeing, that like Soloman said, “there is nothing new under the sun”. I want to add some things I’ve learned.

Treat your child with respect and do not allow them to be disrespectful to you.

Use few words. “Do it now.” “That is not an option.” “No dessert (or whatever) tonight. (Argument…) No dessert tomorrow night. Do you really want to keep doing this?” Don’t be afraid to turn and walk away from an argument.

Be consistent.

Great advice, and yes to Solomon’s wisdom. I think of that verse often! 🙂 SO glad you stopped by and hope you’ll subscribe to my blog and stick around– Your wisdom and input is welcome here. Aloha!

So my sister is really annoying with all her arguments once while teaching her algebra I told her answer was wrong and tried to explain but she argued on when she realized she was wrong she wrote my answer and said whats wrong why are you shouting at me or when u try to sit down and have a little respect chat she just says shut up and moves on she frequently has arguments with my mother and lies a lot

Mine is an eleven year old boy. This parenting thing is so hard. Sure hope a great leader emerges from your home and mine! Thanks for taking the time to write this post.

Great,i will try these suggestions today! Thanks!

Another thing that I did that helped was basically dont argue back. My son and my wife argue all the time. He rarely argues with me. Mainly because I shut him down and tell him I didnt tell him to talk, I asked him to do (insert task here) The line of thinking actually came from my wife. Basically it boils down to who is the adult and who is the child.

Dont get me wrong there are absolutely time a discussion is called for but brusing your teeth isn’t one of them.

I love it. Thanks Ray! 🙂 Aloha-

Been reading through the comments here…..has anyone looked at the possibility of Autism? Specifically PDA (Pathological Demand Avoidance).

Seeing a lot of similarities here with my stepson, who is currently under assessment.

Even if Autism/PDA doesn’t seem to fit your kid, the parenting techniques for autism work for almost any neural typical child. Google PDA parenting and see what you think. I found it to be an invaluable resource. Especially when it comes down to arguments/meltdowns/refusal behaviour and making any number and variety of excuses to not have to do something.

fascinating, Charlie. Thank you for sharing. I’m going to check that out for sure. Good info! 🙂 And all the best to you as you go through the assessment process. blessings.

My son is so arguementive I just want to rip my hair out its been a long time bad habbit even gets in trouble for it at school I’m a Christian mother and we always try to explain the honor your mother and father but that dont seem to help I’m at my wits end

love it, and its perfect advice, my son is nine, im a single parent and boy ur advice is much appreciated

Thank you Polly!! So glad you found the post, and i hope you’ll subscribe and stick around and be a part of this blog community! much aloha–

Thanks, Monica, for sharing! It is helpful to know we are not alone in this journey! I have a 6 year old who has turned into the habitual arguer. And it is almost always to see how far he can push boundaries. I have found it effective to re-state what the task or request was, and when the argument comes, to nip it by saying “I don’t hear you when you’re arguing.” It works most of the time (unless he is too hungry or tired)! 😉

I am a step mother to a 7 1/2 yr old girl. She doesn’t respect any rules in the house. She’s lazy, doesn’t want to brush her teeth or hair, argues back all the time, constantly gets in trouble at school, doesn’t like school, argues when it’s time to do her homework. Already aware of her sexuality with boys. Doesn’t respect her father or me..her mom’s a heroine attic that does nothing for her. She has more respect for her mom even though she beats her and we dont…is this normal? Am I going to have more problems when she gets older?

See, I am so sorry you are in a rough situation with your family. No, this is not normal and yes, you will have more problems if you don’t get a plan together. It must start with a loving relationship with your step daughter. Then you must have boundaries in place. She should not be allowed to be rude or disrespectful. There have to be consequences — not beating her but loving, firm boundaries in place. I recommend you get a counselor to help you sort through things and make a plan. I pray you find hope and a new way to navigate. Blessings and all the best to you-

Get help now. My step-daughter (14) is the same way. Her mother has been out of the picture for we waited too long. Would get better. It did not. We are now trying counseling, but we waited too long. Her father(my fiance) has gotten to the point where he doesn’t even want anything to do with her because she is so mean, rude, and thinks every thing we do is wrong. She argues non-stop. I just had an argument with her because she wants to cook eggs for breakfast in the morning after not eating breakfast for 2 years because it is gross. I told her no that it makes too much noise while her dad is sleeping. Her response is she is she should be able to eat and that her dad should just have to get up. I tell her she can eat cereal, oatmeal, toast, make eggs tonight and reheat them, but she isn’t cooking in the morning. Her response is still that we are starving her all because her dad wants to sleep before going to work. That “everyone” eats hot breakfast in the morning. This lead to a 30 minute argument in which I couldn’t get her to compromise in any way. It had to be her way or no way. I am not saying we are perfect parents or even close to it, but I am certain not all kids get a hot breakfast in the morning. This is one small example of an argument that has now ruined our night.

If you don’t get help now it will continue. Get counseling, including family counseling on how to communicate. And if needed some medication. Please don’t let yourself get into my position you will end up hating her and resenting your husband for putting you in that position.

Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with an augmentative 4 year old? Everything is an argument. Please get dressed-he wants to wear a different shirt, okay fine. Brush your teeth-won’t open his mouth and says he doesn’t know how. I offer suggests guiedence and still a fight. The list goes on. Eat your dinner and then you can have desert. He’s full from dinner and wants desert now- goes to bed hungry. Wakes up- same fight. I know he’s trying to have some control but he’s got such a strong will he leaves us no way to offer hep or guidance. He throws a fit and it will go on until the switch in his head has switched to something else- hours sometimes!!

I have some kids that are bossy and argue all the time. I have tried to do all this stuff but nothing is working, how do I get this to stop?!

Thanks for commenting, Amanda. Sorry you’re having a tough time. Sounds like you might just have to work on the consequences part…Perhaps they are getting more out of the satisfaction of arguing than the discomfort that comes with it. Most of the time if you give them swift consequences they will begin to think twice before arguing. being consistent is the hardest part of course… Hang in there, hopefully you’re making progress even if you don’t feel like it yet. 🙂 Blessings

Wow! It’s pretty clear we are not alone in this one! 😉 I have two grown daughters as well as a half-way through 10 son, and have certainly made my share of mistakes. Fortunately, both daughters have grown to be wonderful adults despite me, and now I have better tools for the third kiddo.

A technique that has worked really well for those stalling and “Wait, but…” situations (and continued to work well with my students once I earned my teaching credentials) was to front-load. When I go somewhere with the kiddos, we have a brief agreement that outlines the terms before we go in, such as, “Okay, we’re going to the jumpy-place. We will stay until 12:00. After that we will leave with no fuss. If the trip is easy, we’ll come back another time. If you give me fuss and make it hard, we won’t come back.” Then I have kiddo agree and repeat back to me. “So what are we going to do?” This never fails twice in a row, as long as the follow up is as promised.

I also prompt with a countdown. After the initial, “Wait!” then it’s, “Okay, I’ll give you until I count to 10.” (A calm 10, not an aggravated 10 – oh yes, I’ve been there, too.) He’ll usually be ready at 7 or 8. Sometimes they just need a little time to process what’s going to happen next.

Linda–this is all SO good!! Thank you so much for sharing. You have some great experience to share from. (And I love to hear your daughters have grown up well!) I’m gonna use the “front-loading” term now, haha, I love it!! Thanks for taking the time to share! aloha-

Wow. You really nailed down what we are going through with my now 11 yr old. I have a very laid back approach. (mostly cause I was raised is a very strict house hold and rebellion was my teen fire back. Which I didn’t outgrow until I had a kid😂) My son is going through a change currently from kid to awkward tween. (Wants to be a teen but still like to “play” with toys etc) I am comically blunt and my son thinks it’s hilarious (as most people do, EXCEPT the mom club at the elementary school 🙊) . He is trying in the last year to make puns like I do, however he hasn’t gotten the just as of yet. His “jokes” end up being straight talking back and goes to far with adults then ends up in trouble and doesn’t understand why if it was a joke.Now 8 take full responsibility for it, and just continue to teach him what’s ok and not, as well as time and place while remembering he just trying to figure out how to fit in with adults. But recently I broke my back twice and am now in a wheelchair. He resents having to do “extra” around the house such as chores. So I sent him on a summer vacation to my parents farm where he worked and made a lot of summer cash. He learned quick how laid back I had been. When he returned home at the end of summer I had a whole new kid. Happy to help if asked (most of the time) . He came back greatful, humbled, and family oriented. He even told me he knows I broke my back working hard so he could have more wants in life. My last big gift before breaking was finally getting to take him to Disneyland, he cried highed me walking in the gate and said , you did it mom!!! So if ever you need another remedy for attitude, send them to work hard on a farm for 3 months.

This is truly the best article I have read and think it could help me with my struggles with my daughter I actually just wrote it all down an and going to start this tomorrow Thank you

oh that makes me so happy! Please do keep me posted! All the best and stay strong momma!! 🙂

My husband is my 7 year old daughters step dad. I try these techniques but I’m unsuccessful and I believe it’s because he over reacts with yelling, calling her names, saying she is the worst child etc.. then wanting to spank as sever as he can (but I don’t allow that, and it causes him to shift his anger toward me) he thinks I’m not disapploning rough/hard enough and I feel it just takes time, patience and consultancy but he is fed up and won’t do things the way they are needed.

I would begin with counseling for you and your husband. You really need to be on the same page if you are raising your daughter together. I’m so sorry, I hear your frustration (and for good reason.) Seek counsel and meanwhile keep loving your daughter and disciplining her the best you can in a healthy environment.

Get out! Never, ever let your child or yourself be abused. Our children don’t pick their circumstances, but we do get to pick ours. Protect your child.

With children like ours, his form of disciplining can make things worse! Please seek counseling and if he refuses, get rid of him because it will just push your daughter further and further away. My niece was just in the same situation and she started running away from home by the age of 10 to get away from the step dad. I promise you, a child running away from home is devastating and scary! You can’t get your “child” back after that. I wish you the best of luck!

I am so concerned for you and your daughter. Your husband sounds abusive toward you both, and will no doubt damage your daughter’s emotional health (and perhaps physical health.) Be brave. God entrusted you with your daughter. She is your primary responsibility. Protect her (and yourself) from this man and his cruel temper, no matter how much you love him.

When it is an appropriate time to discuss the topic of arguing, I ask to play a game of saying 10 scenario and they say if its acceptable to respond such as…with a teacher in class, with a boss, with a fire,d over pizza, with a police officer giving a ticket, with someone in a volatile situation…etc. Teach when it is acceptable to talk back. What the difference is in arguing, talking back, using black/white thinking to prove a point and debating. How to agree to disagree respectfully by not insulting, being derogatory, acknowledging and how to take turns on whose idea gets to WIN. I consider the age of the child in teaching these communication skills and increase the intricacy of the lesson the older they get. Teach if the discussion gets heated to calm down before resuming and many put a time limit on the discussion so it is not avoided yet dealt with succintly. Be a good role model.

Geez, I don’t know. My daughter is a steamroller. She does it a lot to her teachers. These days, she is a high school student. Her excuses are killing her grades. She still blames her teachers including me for her irresponsible behavior. Anyway, she argues about everything. It feels I have a lawyer in my house. Don’t get me wrong, I gave her opportunities to correct bad choices. I gave my very best, but she still is making a lot of excuses.

Last summer, she was in a complete lockdown. Now, we are back at it again because she failed three classes. She still argues about why she failed them. Well, I’m not buying it.

I will be rigid this time.

Thanks for sharing, Mavel. So sorry for all you’ve been through. Your situation is pretty serious so I would recommend getting some counsel. IF you haven’t already, I would seek out a therapist or counselor to help you find the best way to reach your daughter’s heart. She has free will and you cannot control everything, but I respect all of your efforts. Hang in there and don’t give up. Blessings.

Sorry Mavel for that you’ve been through. Maybe, you should get a strong counsellor. Or take away her phone. My mom does that and it works!

Just googled, “8 year old always defensive,” and this article came up. Not only is she argumentative, like you described, but defensive…as if everything I ever say to her, or ask her to do, she feels like she’s always in trouble for and needs to argue and be defensive about it. She’s not in trouble very often, so I’m concerned about what would make her feel this way. And her tone with me is disrespectful too, when it could be the simplest thing I’m saying to her. She always seem to have a story too, whether it be from at school or somewhere else, that someone was getting her in trouble for something, “she didn’t do,” or that so and so or somebody else did (yet no reports from her teacher of her getting in trouble 🤔). So why is she feeling like she must always defensively argue every little thing?? What can I do to help her? She lives in 2 homes, as we are divorced, and I know we do things differently in each of our homes, but could this be contributing this greatly to this behavior?

You described our 10 year old daughter perfectly! We adopted her 2.5 years ago and I think alot of her issues are trauma from her previous home. Divorce can be a sort of trauma for kids too so it’s possible it has contributed.

Thank you for this. My husband and I have been dealing with an almost unruly 5.5 year old. He is very defiant and strong-willed. He will rarely get ready for school or bedtime without assistance (always “needs” his father). When we tell him no, he will just pace around and not listen until we get up and get him ready. He consistently talks-back and has been very disobedient and disrespectful. Time-outs are ineffective and we have had several chats and no results. I feel it has become worse since he started kindergarten. I thought maybe he is just always exhausted or needs more time with us, but that still doesn’t excuse this behavior.

Any advice? What consequences could we use for a child that doesn’t use tablets/phone/video games, other than no tv?

Oh I’m so sorry! You are definitely not alone and I don’t want you to lose hope. Honestly, our youngest son (7) has been more like you described than any of the others (keeping me humble!) I know it’s controversial, but my husband and I use spankings (done right, we do not beat our kids! :)) So the sight of the wooden spoon keeps my son in check a bit, though it does not totally solve the problem. I think consistency is key, and if he is asking for help doing things you know he can do on his own, you need to be firm and stand your ground. Natural consequences (being late and suffering whatever consequences that gives him) help. Also: Incentives (rewards for a day of obedience, etc) can really help. Otherwise I think it is just perseverance. If we don’t lose our cool when they are difficult, it communicates a lot! (I keep telling my son “I will win this battle!” He may have a strong will and his own personality, but he can not think he is in charge over me!! 😉 ) Bless you and keep up the good work!

Thanks. We are not against spankings, but it is still not fixing the root of this problem. It’s a temporary fix for him! Not losing my cool is also a struggle. He knows exactly how to push my buttons!

I have tried rewards, but sometimes, I feel like I’m bribing him to behave properly. I dont think we are going about it the right way. 🙁

I always tell my daughter that I will never give her the message that she is incapable by “helping” her do the things she is capable of doing. Service is 1 thing, parenting another, and the THIRD is I will NOT be her servant. There are Mommy things and Maid things. I’m her mom, but I am not her maid

I just wanted to add an update since I got a notification about this post. Husband and I had a chat about him always “helping” our son get ready for school every morning. Our son gets ready for school by himself and has become very independent overall. He listens MOST of the time and when he doesn’t, he gets the corner. I am happy to say the time-outs and spankings are pretty rare these days! I have a very pleasant, respectful, bright young boy! Thanks for the feedback.

Gosh, so many if you really struggling. I feel for you. Today’s kids have such a sense of entitlement! Media, school, friends – all telling them the world owes them. Our boys are 12 & 13 and we get some of these problems too. Remind yourself, and them, of good things they do do. My kids, I never have to help them get up and ready for school – bonus. But, one spends a lot of time having angry sessions at us and tantrums – the other can not grasp much about compassion and also very argumentative. Each time they do we try to remember to give them a warning (sometimes we’re so frustrated it doesn’t happen and going straight to punishment doesn’t work as well) E.g. if you are going to keep talking to me so rudely, I will take your phone or ps for a day/week,etc. Ours do not have any devices in their room, and are only allowed on them before tea, in the lounge. I think if we try and limit their time blocking us out of their lives with screens, the better life is. Kids are hard work, relationships are. Too many parents not doing it hard are not helping their kids learn to be responsible and respectful people.

My son is 14 and every time i ask him to do something he says in a minute and has an excuse I’m so frustrated with it and especially homework, then he gets mad because he didn’t do it and i tell him i told you to and then he gets mad and says i know I’m sorry , it frustrates me so much he knows he is wrong Any suggestions from anyone

I suggest laying out some simple consequences. Something that makes it not worth it to delay or disobey. Be firm and be consistent. It’s really going to be the best way to get him to change. Hang in there!! You can do it. 🙂 Aloha-

I have the same with my older boy. I always try and give him ‘warning time’. I would not like to have to stop what I am doing right at the moment someone wants me too – in fact, I wouldn’t. So, I tell him in ten minutes, you will need to come off that game to – do chores, have tea etc. When I remember to do this we do get along much better.

My daughter is 15, and argues about every little thing I tell her. She has an excuse for not doing any of her homework, chores and even eating what i cook. Drives me insane. I am to the point where i tell her and if she argues, I just walk away and then come back and ask again. Usually doesn’t help at all. She doesn’t do anything I ask her and blames her faults on others.

My daughter is now 30 and continues to argue and debate anything I might say.I shared a how to I learned to March in the military ,she right away explained I hear you dad but every individual is different and expressed themselves differently and should be accepted for thier differences in doing things.At this I felt a tightness in my chest and felt like screaming .Since this is how it’s been since she was a teenager . I feel she has no respect for me or my life experience. I am at my wit’s end. Please help.

Hi Larry I’m no expert on this subject but my mother kept trying to give me their opinion/advice through my teens into adulthood but she continued to do so as if I was still a child. I have had the conversation where I’ve said that if I need help and some advice I’ll ask for it. Otherwise I’ll figure it out myself. Now I don’t know how your interaction with your daughter goes but it may be worth reflecting on how these conflicts come about.

If you’re just generally chatting then yes you are entitled to your opinion gained from your life experience and that’s ok, that’s your perspective. And yes others but have different views and that’s ok too. One size doesn’t fit all. Does your daughter feel that your saying it must be this way. Perhaps qualifying your statements with ‘in my experience’ xyz. A healthy debate can emerge if she puts forward a different viewpoint which may open your eyes to a new way. But not a problem if you agree to disagree. You don’t need to be on the same page just respect where each other is coming from.

If she’s asking for advice then she should respect your advice rather than argue back. Otherwise don’t bother asking if you don’t want to listen/hear.

If you’re volunteering your opinion/advice unsolicited then be ready for done push back as this might come across as control or interfering. She is an adult now and won’t like bring told what to do or think as if she were still a child.

Not sure if any of this helps. Let me know how you get on.

Those are all good thoughts, thank you for contributing! 🙂

It’s to the point that my seven year old daughter will find something to argue about and won’t let up and it’s impossible to spend time as a family. My 15 year old goes to her room. I’ll clean and my husband will do something and the 7 year old will play. We can’t be together and I am very sad about this.

Thank you for this article! My 11 sounds identical, down to the arguing if the sky is blue he will say it is green or purple! I adopted him when he was 4 and he has been this way his whole life. I have tried so many, many, many things and found myself ready to pull my hair out, as others have mentioned in their comments. This year, he has added a tone of disgust and patronizing to me and I reached a boiling point. I talked it over with a friend and she said she had taken her son’s iphone for a month (he is 13) and that changed everything. So I told my son, this is it. You have a very bad habit of arguing with me and talking to me disrespectfully and this is the end. If you continue to do this, I will take your privileges one by one until you have none left and you will have to earn them all back. First to go was his allowance. Then, I decided I would not buy him any new school clothes, he will just have to wear the ones he has (about 2 weeks worth without doing laundry), no new book bag (the old one had a tear in it), no new lunch box after he lost it at school the first week. And, he kept arguing and being disrespectful! I took his laptop. No change, then his iphone ( a used one a friend gave him that doesn’t have a subscription), then his ipod. Still no change!! Then… I told him I wouldn’t take him to soccer practice. After that, he finally started changing. He is in a middle ground stage, where he still might say the disrespecftul thing or start to argue, then he stops himself, apologizes. Whew! This has been two weeks now where he has really really slowed down his arguing and disrespectfulness. I told him he wouldn’t earn back his privileges all at once, but every few days, as we see how it will go. He is getting better a little every day. So far, he has earned back soccer practice, his computer, his iphone (which he lost for a day again), and today I will give him his ipod. He knows I am totally serious so I hope this is the change that I have been trying to bring about for years. It drove me crazy giving him so much… so much love, so many opportunities, so many belongings, and then to be disrespectful and unkind to me. Especially when I would ask him to help, like hold the door or bring in groceries. UNBELIEVABLE! Now, when I ask him to help he is supposed to say “yes mom!” with a positive attitude and that has been changing miraculously. But I feel better knowing so many people have had to deal with it and it is NOT EASY training a very strong willed child like this. Good luck to you and everyone!

Alicia, I can totally identify with you. We have a 9 year old we adopted 2 years. He is such incredibly hard work. He spends all his time complaining about everything…….and I mean everything. Unless we’ve done at least 3 things in a day that I would have been lucky to have had in a lifetime when I was a kid he says ‘is that it? That’s rubbish’. His attitude is of complete self-righteousness. He cannot accept he is EVER wrong. When we ask, plead, talk to him, set consequences for his behaviour he has a full blown tantrum. Both myself and my husband are at the point where we are having to push ourselves to even ask him a question like ‘how was your day?’ It’s ripping our family apart and none of our relatives or friends has stepped up to help out. Where did it all go wrong? He was a problem from day one and it was made worse because his behaviour made it difficult to really like him. His teacher told us at parents day the other day that he was a little immature for his age. We spoke to him about it and his response was to blame him because he is a ‘rubbish teacher’. The best bit is that people keep telling me it’s going to get worse when he is a teenager!! One day at a time we’ll get through this, but the joy has been royally sucked out of everything we do. He even gets annoyed if we find something his little brother does funny. ‘How is that even funny etc etc’. Painful!!

Ive just dropped my son at school and deel exhausted. Hes 9 almost 10 and im finding that almost everything i say or ask he has an answer for. Its not always an argumentative way but he just constantly thinks hes right and he knows best. Today i took the PlayStation away and said no baseball this afternoon but he still would have a comment to say. I get angry and frustrated as it just doesnt sink in. Then im left feeling bad and worried how this will effect him. I just dont know what to do one hand its not lile hes real naughty but just the lack of respect for what his father and i say just blows me away.

Get out of my head! No seriously. LOL Exact same story today. Dropped off my 8 year old little girl at school who was tardy because she argued about everything I told her to do. We too, take away things that she loves and like you mentioned, she still has something to say even after the punishment is doled out! I am at my wit’s end. I came home and cried to my husband about how my daughter hates me and doesn’t listen and doesn’t respect me at all. She listens to other people and she is a great student, she loves church and she is a great friend. Her and I however clash like the Titans. There is such discord between her and I that it makes me feel like a failure and it breaks my heart. My other five year old daughter however is the complete opposite and we get along beautifully and seamlessly. This also is the cause of frustration for my 8 year old because she sees the pleasant relationship her sister and I share as a result of her obedient and willingness to be respectful. But it’s like my eight year old still doesn’t get it!

That’s exactly my experience also Glenda with one of my 13 yr old twin boys. It is sure frustrating. I have been noticing that lately he is becoming even more disrespectful & spiteful to me than usual & is getting more destructive to our house & belongings (i.e. slamming doors, throwing things, kicking stuff). After an argument, I have to follow him to make sure he doesn’t destroy our house or car, etc., which doesn’t allow for cooling down time before another one begins. His therapist told me that my son is very passive aggressive. My son blames me because he is having to argue with me & also because he is being disciplined for something he says is my fault to begin with. I am also bipolar with extreme anxiety which adds to the challenge of getting effective results when dealing with my sons behavior & having a peaceful home for me & my boys. Yep, totally blows me away also.

(I already emailed this to you personally, but so that it is here as well– 🙂

Glenda–I am sorry for what you are going through. Please don’t forget to balance all that you are working on with your son with some fun and happy times. You (both) need those. I will pray for you. Keep in mind at that age kids are going through a lot, and changing a lot. Have patience and let your son know you are there for him and not against him. You can make a big difference by staying positive, firm and loving. Please keep me posted.

My daughter is 13,aware she’s adopted n argues about everything.We have not spoken in a week n it’s killing me.What do i do??plz help!!!

Keep talking to her and loving her. She needs your love. You are the adult and must be mature and objective. Find connecting points and give her time. 13 year olds have a lot going on. Don’t compromise your values or allow her to treat you poorly, but you certainly shouldn’t quit talking to her. Get help through a counselor if you need. Don’t give up.

We r going to a councelor. SHE said to let her fend on her own for this week til we go for next visit fri .I’m doing that n talking when necessary It’s killing me inside to do this.I love her so much but I’ll hang in there.Thank you for ur advise.

I have a 10yr old granddaughter and she is argumentative mostly with me when her and her older brother visit for the day, we have them once a week in the last three weeks of the school holidays. These last two occasions of having her has been an absolute nightmare and I’ve been reduced to tears (not in front of her), so I identify with all other who have posted here. She is totally disrespectful towards me and my husband but it doesn’t seem to upset him like it does me. I’m at my wits end. I cannot and will not keep on blaming her attitude on the divorce of her parents four years ago or that her father has just sold his house in the same town as our daughter. Our granddaughter has to learn/be taught to respect me and my husband. My daughter and her ex are on very good terms and he travels down from the north of UK (where he works) every weekend to see his children and he and us are on good terms too. I’m so glad I found this article.

Love the article. We have one such 17 year old who has a bad case of the 18-itis. He is constantly arguing, for no reason than he wants to prove us wrong. We’ve called him on it, Every. Single. Time–then he accuses US of arguing with him.

I really do agree with your assessment of if they cannot learn to listen to their earthly parents, how will be able to listen to their heavenly father? I have said this for years (because the issue has been going on for years). I worry and pray constantly about the type of jobs they will have, and their future spouses.

Anyway, thank you for the article.

My 6.5yr old was born a fighter and hasn’t stopped. It’s a really challenge to parent but I agree with you that when he grows up he’ll either be a bad-ass lawyer or the BEST hostage negotiator!

Today he shared with me that he feels grown-ups are always bossing him around. It’s the first time he’s actually said that. I sat him down and explained the differences between someone teaching him something -v- someone being bossy. I explained that to know something is to learn it. I used specific examples and maybe I saw the light go on.

In our case, my son is a “know-it-all” and as someone else commented he really loves correcting others and putting them in line all the time while he feels he doesn’t have to follow the same rules.

I’m feeling his perspective is eschewed and I want to fix that before it gets out of hand.

Thanks for the blog!!

How do you deal with a toddler (4 years old) doing things like that?! I’m at the ready to pull my hair out stage.

I’m dealing with this with my 5 year old. I can relate to how you feel! Reading these comments lets me know that we are not alone. Hang in there and good luck!

OMG Yes… I joke, I can’t even suggest she enjoy a cup of milk and it’s not an argument in some way. I’m working on staying calm, and simply applying consequence for the arguing.

Great article. Thank you!

yes, always best to keep a sense of humor. 🙂 Thanks for commenting…you’ve got this! aloha-

Great article! My oldest (13) can be an arguer, and a “corrector”. He gets cought up in telling others when they have errored in some detail, like grammar, or rules, or facts. I say this because I think the two traits are related. Some ways we try to help him with these traits are often little phrases to help him remember the “bigger” conversations we’ve had to help him refine these characteristics: We might say, 1) ” Hey bud, remember, don’t correct about things that don’t matter.” 2) “Once you have done what I’ve asked, you can continue what you were doing.” 3) “First, obey, then, you play.” 4) “Be easy going, and things will go easier.” 5) “Are you arguing because you want to be right, or because you want the truth?”

I cant always sit him and and lecture him, nor do i want to! So I sum up previous conversations with the main point. It’s a good bite sized reminder for him, and helps redirect where he’s headed to a better choice. These things take us years of working on, and when I fail or he fails, I pray for Gods help with this precious child he saw fit to give us to raise ♡

Love this. Thank you for sharing! Those are some great ideas and I’ll steal a few for my own arguers. 🙂 Much aloha–

Thank you for sharing! I’m gonna remember to try those wonderful ideas! I pray for effective results. WooHoo! 🙂

Thanks Monica, great read! This is spot on for our 10 year old son. He is very argumentative and then will turn things around and ask questions like ‘do you just try think up ways to tell me off?’ He said this tonight after we had repeatedly said it was time for bed. He is a very bright little boy with a great sense of humour but never knows where the line in the sand is. I feel like such a bad parent because I always seem to be arguing with him.

Thanks Monica! This was great and hits right at home with my 10 year old daughter. She has will power beyond control and we struggle a lot. She is the youngest of 4 and the only girl, so this also brings it’s own issues. Each of your points I’m going to try, I think it will help both of us and let her know that I hear her and understand her.

Thank you for this…. I see myself using these tips with my eldest, he’s 11! I can pocket these in my memory as well because I also have a 9 yo and 4 yo – All boys. My two cents….. I use something I’ve read from Love and Logic. When he’s asked a question and I’ve answered (not to his liking) he’ll try to challenge me to change my answer. I simply respond with ‘asked and answered.’ Other attempts to argue are usually held off with ‘I love you too much to argue.’ Sometimes a simple I love you is all I can get out, and that’s okay too. It’s hard when our littles are trying to find their voice for their wants and opinions. Respect is the bigger issue and what we’re all aiming for. In our home boys will boys isn’t implied because boys will be men, and we do our best to raise them as Godly, respectful and kind.

beautifully said, Stephanie!! Yes and yes all the way on your comment! 🙂 Also it’s been a while since I read love and logic, but I’m so glad for the reminder to use the “asked and answered” phrase. I will use that one today. Much love and keep up the great work!

Aahhh!! This is my middle son!! He is exactly as you describe your son- every single thing you just wrote, he does it! Drives me nuts! These are such great options!! Thank you, as always you have good insight!

A couple of things I use: ~When I’ve answered a question/ request and he starts to argue, I say “I’ve given you an answer”. That usually squashes it. He may roll his eyes as he walks away but he stops. ~ I’m working to teach them to listen to HEAR and not listen to ANSWER. I think when you listen to answer you tend to only hear half of what is being said. I have 3 boys (18 yrs, 10 yrs & 6 yrs) and this is a good lesson for all of them. It’s good for myself, as well. I can be guilty of it too!

Thank you Kristie! (and yes, I’m also guilty on this one, but always more fun to focus on the kids, right? :)) Great ideas you use, I love the idea of pointing out the difference in listening to ANSWER and listening to HEAR. Excellent! Aloha to you– keep up the great work!

My son just turned 8 and he doesn’t ever do anything that he is told the first time. I repeat myself so many times to get anything done. Bed time turns into an ugly time because I need to say it so many times that its bed time. He argues every time and says No a lot. I feel so helpless and angry with myself for not being able to handle the situation better. I fear this is going to affect my relationship with him in years to come. I don’t want to be yelling at him always.

Be firm. Be loving. Be consistent. Consequence must outweighs his satisfaction in the argument. Stop him quick and keep doing that until he realizes it won’t work any more. Then have some fun with him as you build your relationship in healthy ways too! Hang in there, don’t get discouraged. Good parenting is not for the faint of heart. 😉 aloha

I’m at my wits end with my 5 year old (nearly 6). She is incredibly argumentative and reverts to toddler-like tantrums when i put my foot down, crying on the floor and stomping her feet. All the while I’m trying to get her to get dressed, fed, and ready for school. I gave up this morning after she screamed at me saying that i made her have a tantrum. I feel like I’m no better because after a certain point I lose it as well and end up yelling at her, after which she just yells back. I feel like I’m losing control of my child and don’t know how to get her back. I’m 7 months pregnant as well so that doesnt help any… I never search blogs like this unless I’m really at a loss. I’m going to try some of your tips, thank you for posting!

Priya–Oh man, that is so hard. Yes, I think these tools will help. mostly importantly be firm and consistent. If she thinks she can get by with things once, she’ll keep trying til it works again. Make the consequence of her poor behavior more memorable than the small satisfaction of a tantrum. Hang in there– you’ve got this!! (and maybe as you look around at some of my other posts you’ll find more support as well.) Much aloha–

This right here is my husband and our 7 year old have the samd personality and this describes them both to a t-but as you can imagine that this is not a good combination more times than not! For example he’ll be told to put his shoes on he’ll say why I’m not getting out of the car which then cause them both to argue about it for 10 extra minutes to get out the door when it should of only taken 2 minutes. Or when he’s asked to pick up it’s always let me see how this works first…then what would take 5 mins is 25 minutes because he’s arguing with his dad-it’s stressing me out! And have tired a few of these things with no results which i think it’s because his dad is just like this so they will argue over anything and everything! any advice?

Oh man…double trouble in your house! 🙂 I’m sorry. I think your husband needs to be the one to initiate change. I’d have a good chat with him over how this wearies you. Ask him if he will take action on setting up a new way to deal with conflict/disagreement. He should be in charge, but carrying on in an argument with a 7 yr. old is useless. Hang in there– hope it gets better. 😉

Same in my house. My husband is an arguer, nothing is ever his fault and he is sometimes disrespectful. He argues with our 15 year old daughter. Last night she had a melt down and instead of just walking away and letting her have it he antagonized her. Which caused it to last even longer. She had to go to bed without finishing her homework. I have talked to him to no avail. I really think that she would be more likely to change her ways.

Oh yes, this is my child. He’ll be 5 this month. Here’s what brought me to this discussion – I needed some napkins and he said “I’ll get them.” He comes back with a roll of paper towels. I tell him, “thank you, but those are paper towels.” He says his favorite line that he always uses whenever someone is trying to teach him anything – “no it isn’t.” I say, “yes they are paper towels” “no it isn’t”. I say “go into time out, nose in the corner.” I was so mad because this is constant. He’s not teachable, how can I teach him anything when the first thing out of his brain is “no it isn’t”? My prayer continually is for the LORD to give him a teachable, respectful heart for without those, none of us can be effective servants for JESUS.

Lynn, yes, it can be so challenging with some personality types. Hang in there, be consistent, and remember to add plenty of JOY to your days so that when you do get serious he does not feel that all you do is correct him. HE needs to receive the corrections in light of a healthy, connected relationship, then he is much more likely to want to please you. Otherwise, just keep praying and I have a feeling you’ll see results eventually. Parenting (well) is not for the faint of heart! 🙂

Thanks for the article. I feel like I try all of these steps, and they just aren’t working. I’m a stay at home mom so I pretty much feel raising my kids is my one job, and I failed.

Oh I’m so sorry for how you feel. We all feel this way at times. Don’t give up. All of your work will pay off! Keep practicing and don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Also–Don’t hesitate to get help or find support if you need it. You are not meant to do this alone. XO

Loved this article. I am 7 years into the arguments (he is 10 now). I am exhausted, depressed and angry most of the time. My husband understands parts of it, but he has his job to go to to escape the daily arguments. He also has a different way with our son, so he appears to be mostly not as impacted as I am. I will put on my big girl pants and use your guidance (heck, I’ve tried everything), but really, I just want to escape this parenthood stuff. I really hate all the arguing and the bad juju it leaves in my heart and home.

Oh so sorry Lissa–It sounds like this issue is a big one for you. I would always encourage you to consider outside help if you feel like this is a pervasive issue…and affecting you constantly. A family counselor might be super helpful!? ALSO: be sure to keep balanced with plenty of joy and fun in the home. Kids are more likely to want to please you if there is an environment of joy and peace and goodness in your home. Focus on the positive and the other stuff oftentimes falls into place as well. 🙂

This article was a true gift and I loved the “appeal” idea. Its hard to find that balance of also respecting their opinion and feelings on bigger matters. All we have done was lay the ground work of our expectations with the number 1 rule respect and we havent argued in 2 days! Im prepared for her to fall back into old habits and am excited to use the rest of the tips provided. I found it helpful to voice with her that we are expecting this from ber because we love her and not from an authorotative prospective of you will do this because we tell you to. Explaining it will not only make her happy now but also in the future!

Oh I’m so glad Meagan! Thank you for telling me. I hope it helps, and though our kids are wired how they’re wired, I do think having some tools to pull out is a great help. Keep me posted, and enjoy the process! Aloha-

While I agree with the tips and almost everything in your article, why does everything I read wrapped up in religion and god? Yes, I’m secular

Thank you Jackie. I’m not sure, but you must be reading things by people who believe in God. 🙂 I know that all of the things I share are affected by my faith. I am glad you find the tips and advice useful, regardless. 🙂

Preach! I need those so bad right now with my all-knowing, all-powerful, all-furture casting 12 year old son. I am struggling SO BAD to deal with this issue with him. I dont want it to ruin our relationship. Eveything ANYONE says to him is an argument.

Stepdad: Theres an old saying that goes…- 12year old injerecting: no theres not me; …….

I am wondering if monetary punishment is going to be a good call for him. I wil lstart this tonight…

PLEASE keep me updated!! 🙂 XO (and that is a hilarious stepdad conversation… sorry, but I laughed. ;))

Hi..I lost my daughter 5/31/15 my husband and I adopted her youngest. He turned 9 in sept we have had him since he was 7. He has been through a lot in his short life..but I do not want him to use it to get away with things! He argues CONSTANTLY..he will correct us constantly.

This is a very good read but I am wondering if it will work for me. My son who will be 8 tomorrow has been so argumentative and rude and nasty especially to me at home this is has become very frustrating for me. He has even tried coming at me and I will NOT tolerate that at all. He is an excellent student with great grades and it is very good in school but when he comes home he switches to be a different child. he is rude everything is no, he doesn’t listen unless something is going to be benefit him in his favor. I am at my wits end b/c i have a 3 year old son also and I don’t want him thinking this behavior is ok. Every morning it is the same routine, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, get dressed, feed your guinea pigs ,and get bag together and EVERY day it is a constant struggle. I don’t know what to do here. .I need help,,,,

Oh Leah–I am so sorry. You’ve got a big challenge on your hands. I do think you should seek some counsel in person. I wish I could chat more with you about things, but from a distance this is difficult. A good counselor may help you get to the root of things. It sounds like your son needs serious discipline, and most of all a heart-change. God can change his heart and give him the desire to honor his parents, but he needs to see his own need for help too. I will pray that you find direction with this. I am glad you take it serious as it is important to get sorted out now rather than later. Bless you and do not give up!! xo

This has been very helpful! I have a 7 year ild head strobg girl. I dont want her to lose that confidence but i do want her to learn reapect. It is however comforting to remind myself that when she is a grown woman she wont allowbherself to be taken advantage of or walked on. I cant wait to try some of these tactics out.

Oh my gosh thank you for posting this. I just Googled “Are all 10 year old boys so argumentative and lazy?” and here you were. I think besides having a few guidelines from another frustrated mom, it just helps knowing that this is normal for some kids. I’m sure this was written a million years ago but I’m still happy it’s here! Thank you!

Katie–Haha, I love that comment! Nope, you’re not alone, and that same boy I wrote about just turned 13 today! He’s an incredible kid with so many great qualities, and yes, he’s still a work on progress (as am I. :)) Keep up the great work and I hope you’ll stick around my blog! I can tell you’re a lot of fun. Aloha-

I am a new foster mom of a 9 year old girl. I don’t have any children of my own so I appreciate all of the information and recommendations. Along with the argumentative behavior, I am also getting the “I know” from her. It’s almost like she is replacing “okay” with “I know” and I’m wondering why this is and how to correct it. The example is: “please go and wash your hands for dinner”……”I know”…..or, she proposes a question like “why does the dog bark when we come home?”….I reply with my answer and her next comment is “oh, okay I knew that.” Perhaps it is maintaining a sense of control, but my goodness…..this is very frustrating. Any feedback or recommendations are appreciated.

Tammy, Oh wow…I can feel your frustration–that’s a tough one! Well first of all, bless you for fostering a 9 year old, that is no easy task. And because of the nature of that relationship, of course many things probably have to be let go of…Pick your battles kind of thing. I do agree with you that there is a sense of control in her replies, and maybe for now that is helping her through. However, in time I would work with her on replacing “I know” with a very simple, “OK” or “Yes ma’am” or whatever you prefer she says. You can do this without a big battle I would imagine and if you work on it consistently and with a kind heart, she may not give you as much push-back as you would think. I often work with my youngest son on saying “OK Mom” instead of arguing…I will say “Please brush your teeth now” and then I quickly follow it with “Ok Mommy” just to model what i am expecting him to say. Hang in there and keep up the amazing work!! XO

Thank you. My boys are great at argueing. We are training them to say “Yes mom” or “Yes Dad” and if they say anything else we will often tell them to try again or say “No, not the answer..” Appeals can be made afterwards.

Thank you so much for this. I woke up so down today because I have lost control of this arguing. I find myself avoiding my child. So I read this. I have dusted myself off and will go in to put a stop to this. I have struggled with the balance of respect of parents and allowing them to be strong. This helps so much. Thank you.

Thank you for taking the time to comment, Wendy! I wish you all the best as you go in strong. 🙂 But also keep in mind that a kid who is wired like this will likely always challenge you in this area. So pace yourself and be realistic. And also: Keep a sense of humor! 😉 Much aloha and feel free to update me!

My 6 year old son does as you say. “I just have to…” “first i want to….”. He also argues before i have really said much. I began to doubt myself as a father as we are so close but recently i feel i am always telling him off and i feel like i am losing that link with him. I have banned his tablet, playstation and now the tv. Next i told him he will miss football training. I just hope he will learn now as i love watching him play football. I will try your tips. Thank you.

Oh you’re not alone Darren! And I do think being consistent is a big key. I just encourage you to keep balancing the discipline with happy “connecting moments.” Sometimes we get so serious about working on areas we want to improve in our kids that we forget the importance of building that bond. Carve out time for that and the other stuff will not be so hard for your son to take. 🙂 Keep me posted and thank you for commenting! aloha-

This post is ver old but, I thought I’d try…I’m at the end of my rope. My daughter likes to do that and then to top it off shell get and attitude and be blatantly disrespectful…most of the time she’s well behaved but these moments are agony and what makes it worse is my husband let’s her do it. I’ve talked to him till I’m blue in the face he continues to set rules that he doesn’t follow, get mad at me if I don’t tolerate the behavior and not do a damn thing when she’s being disrespectful to me and now my son is starting it. (They are 8&5) I do not want to continue this problem to have it escalate as teens and I’m having trouble with bitterness against my husband for not standing up for me, for letting her act that way and then “correcting” me when I put my foot down (often in front of them!) Help!?

Dearest Breaking Point…I’m so sorry. I feel your pain through your comment. You are in a tough position. I think you’ve named it already, but the first problem is really between you and your husband. I would highly recommend talking to your husband respectfully when you are not in the heat of the moment. You should clearly share your frustration and the goals of your parenting. If he is unwilling to talk to you I would seek professional counsel. It really is gonna be hard to move forward in this area of parenting if your husband is not on the same page. If he refuses (and you cannot get counseling together,) then I think you’ll have to learn to be very strong and objective (not yelling or getting emotional) and you will need to parent consistently. I recommend the book “Boundaries in parenting.” I wish you all the best and I am sorry you are in such a tough spot. Hang in there and don’t forget to pray! 😉

My teenage daughter argue so much that my one friend said “I don’t mean any harm bit your daughter has been arguing with u for ten years since I known you. As your best friend, I feel it has go stop.” I was so embarrassed. my one neighbor said “your daughter argue with u so mih she need to be an attorney” she argues with me so much has that we have had to leave places. I will walk away from her to stop the arguing and return letting her know Im tired of it and she will say “but….” and she is back to argueing. ONE thing I learned is that they have learned to argue from someone. My daughter did or like to argue or people who did when she was little. She would cover her ears if anyone argued around her. then she met this girl who has coached in arguing with adults to get her way. I know cause once I over heard her coaching my daughter on the phone to argue with me. Just today she messed up on her pumpkin. We offer to buy her ‘s new one and help her carve the new one and for over an hour she argued about how everything went wrong and it doesn’t make sense. No matter how we decided to fix it, she continue to argue with negatives. It went on for over an hour Last time she did this, cops came. Neighbors assumed cause she argued so much she was being abused. When cops realize her cocky hard headed demeanor, he checked her on it and even said “you say you don’t get spanking’s and u arguing with ur mom like that. It has to stop. I will end up slapping my child if they continue that way. You are lucky. ” Cops felt bad for me. He said if they happen to get called again just tell them he said it just my teenager acting up.

She makes such a fuss she bring’s cop’s to our house. I can say her name a hundred times for her to stop argueing and she will say “no.no.no…… .and no….and no.and I don’t care. Its…you don’t undestand….it’s not..”

I’m actually ready to put her in counseling cause I just don’t want to argue anymore, with her.

Her father even have tried and have left the room and gave up. He got so sick of it one day he yet “for God sake stop arguing with your Mother. I have had it now” he wanted to ground her for a month for all the argueing so long for months.

Her old after school program even said she Argues with the teachers and asked where she got that behavior from. My daughter has a best friend who basically plots alot to get her way and coach my daughter in argueing.

I have decide to take us to therapy so maybe then she will made to be quiet and not argue when I speak. She argues over my voice.

I’m in hell, and I feel like I want to take her to church ever day and confess to a priest but she will argue with him to. I know it.

fine a kid but what do you do about a 35 year old son that does the same thing. knows everything … my 35 year old has been a rock-head for 33 years.

I have an 11 yr old daughter who is just like this. She’s a great girl who has a backbone. She loves baby dolls and barbies, and she is very observant. I love her but I sometimes don’t like her. I feel horrible and I don’t ever want her to feel this from me. We are homeschooling and she argues about everything. I’m so glad I read this article, and i love all the tips. All the points you made are so valid. Thanks for this article!!!!

I feel so much more relaxed just scrolling down this comment section. I’m not alone.

Thank you for all the stories and advise. There is a lot of wisdom to grab hold of! I will be trying some of the strategies from other parents on this site. Here is my story…

Oscar is my emotionally charged, strong willed 7 yr old who wants mostly to be a teenager, which in his mind is when he will be emancipated from the tyranny of my rules. Haha! He has a strong sense of right and wrong which can both polarize his thinking so that the arguing becomes a matter of principle or help us to get him to see that arguing (more often than not, for simple argument sake) stands against his moral code.

We call it opposite talk. And, we calmly (most of the time) ask Oscar if he is telling us the truth or if he is telling us the opposite. This can bring him around because lying is not a part of who he wants to be. This is mostly effective when he is given consequences for blatant opposite talk, mostly that he does not get what he truly wants. He gets the opposite. And, yes, being consistent in enforcing the consequences is HARD! I’ve even told Oscar, this is the part of parenting that is no fun at all!

When his arguing is more about enforcing his will, I use another approach. I get him face to face with me and ask him to look at me and listen. Then I tell him that I’m on his side. Always. On his side. And that I know he wants to… be on time for the bus, as an example. He hates being late. I tell him that I want to help him accomplish this and I will not argue with him. If he does not do what I am asking him to do, he may be late. That is his choice. He almost always turns his actions, if not his attitude, around. As for the attitude, I have a few phrases that I repeat until he understands what I’m asking of him… “remember, happy cooperation”, “rewind and please say that politely”, “I deserve the same respect that I show you”, “our family has rules and you know what they are”.

And, of course, this all works 100% of the time. And I never get impatient and blow my top. HAHAHA! Which is why I’m seeking advise on the internet! It’s good to have different perspectives and new strategies. So thanks again for the information and for the community of parents created here.

Now. On to fight the good fight!

Susan!! Thank you so much for commenting, and I agree — it feels better to know we’re not in it alone. 🙂 I love the “opposite talk” idea…what a great tool. Sounds to me like you’re handling things incredibly well, super good thoughts here! Keep it up. Much Aloha and hope you’ll stick around here!

My son is 8 and he argue with me everyday even if i say we had a good day he will roll his eyes i started to let him play out (just out the front in the garden) he loved it and i was using that when he was argue but not it dont bother him i am going to try the house work part and see if that will help i alway call him the joker of the class

Hi my name is … amy I am a nanny parents are home aswell With major experience I have handled it lol But recently one has begun to argue raise his voice and he’s normal super sweet

I understand to give him the floor to speak and to do things to make the day run as smooth as possible but the tone n respect to me in getting smaller He is not punished in anyway for any act Just re directed and with crossed fingers to have him follow through but lately he’s begin to relive there is no punishment for anything and now it’s a free for all parents do not want to punish or aka deal with it So I been holding in my steem

How can I go about the situation Parents are aware and said he’s going through a arum entire stage But doesn’t Tell the child to apologize or to respect and listen to me. Child chosen to argue then claim mom or dad said otherwise Then I get told to let him do it his way as long as it gets done I am being b little instead of him being told to follow though I been working w family for years and I’m comfortable to speak up but I have no solution to say

Any ideas Thankx

We have a saying in my house “You obey me first, you obey me fast, then you can ask” now that he is used to me saying the whole thing I can now say “first and fast” if he starts to argue with me. It has helped a lot, it’s like a secret code we can use when out. Of course he is only 5 but has been stubborn and argumentative since he was born. I will also ask him “what does the Bible says about obeying?” And he will respond “children obey your parents” then I ask if he was using a “Jesus heart” by arguing and he usually responds “no, I’m sorry mommy”

LOVE all of that, Tricia! Thanks for sharing. I’m going to go teach my 6 yr. old that saying right now! 🙂 Well done. Aloha-

My 14 yr old grandson, has a very strong personality. He and his mother have just recently moved in with us. They have come out of a very verbally abusive home. So now I am receiving emails from the school that he can talks back to the teachers, and is late to class. He has no respect for authority as for the past 10 years it seems he and his step dad have gone toe to toe. So my grandson, has lost respect for authority and it transfers to teachers and class mates. How do you handle this. He does not seem phased if you take anything away. What to do. He really is a kind sweet young man. I think he has lost himself. But I do not know how to reach him.

I started looking for information online because my husband swears our 8 year old daughter is abnormal. She has days where she argues about literally everything. Any insight or personal experience on if this is normal or not?

She probably is normal but has a very strong personality. But if you (or your husband) has legitimate concerns, it never hurts to see a professional and look into things. There are personality disorders in kids as well, and there is help if you need it. But many kids around that age are testing boundaries and demonstrating a strong personality by being argumentative so absolutely this could be normal. Set strong boundaries…teach respect…stay in control. 😉 Much aloha!

Hello, I too have an extremely argumentative child. She is almost 8 and very sweet and kind but we cannot do ANYTHING without an argument from her. Our days go like this….get up for day, have breakfast (even meals are a struggle), she never wants what I give her and even when I make her something different she will not eat it (all of a sudden she is “not hungry”) without an argument. Then comes time to brush teeth and hair…oh my goodness…it is a struggle. When she gets home from school, I give her some time to unwind…when it comes time for homework she with fight tooth and nail. Dinner is ALWAYS a struggle also. It is like this for everything little thing from getting a bath, washing her hair, what pj’s she will wear, at bedtime she will get up about 15-20 times (not an exaggeration). I am at my wits end. I will tell her if you argue and ignore me then I am taking your tablet away. She will act like she is complying then hide the tablet! I have taken every single toy out of her room and her response is “I don’t want to play with that/those anyway”. She will not stay in a time out. One day I got so frustrated I said “If I told you rain was wet you would say it wasn’t!” she even argued about that! My husband and I have both set her down and explained why there are rules and why the arguing is negative but it seems to go in one ear and out the other. She is disrespectful not only to us but others that just say hello to her. I was raised to respect others so this has been a huge struggle to get her to understand. She screams and cries and I always think to myself that I want to scream and cry, lol. Honestly, I do worry that she will have problems as she gets older and into adulthood because of this. I do pick my battles as well. It’s to the point now that my nerves are shot and it feels like we can’t spend one minute of time without some kind of argument or complaint. Oh and cleaning her room? That is the hardest one of all I think. Thanks for advice, I’m gonna keep holding strong now that I know I’m not the only one, lol.

Oh, btw…this is a child that when she was 3 years old popped the screen out of a window and climbed down the drapes to get outside as I was in the very next room making dinner. She even put her shoes on and threw toys out before she went. To say the very least she is strong willed, lol.

Hey Frustrated one…;) I hear you, I do. And you’re not alone. I wish I could sit and chat with you about all of this, but it sounds like you’ve got a good head on your shoulders and yes, you do have a strong one on your hands. The best advice I could give would be to sit down and lay out some very strong “house rules” that go right to the root. Make sure it is clear and lay out the consequences that go with breaking the rules. Then be on your game, completely consistent…firm but loving. This is hard work but it sounds like she is getting by with murder. I’m not in your home, but from the way you describe things I would also suggest sitting with a counselor or therapist and seeing what they say about things. Perhaps you are realign with something more than an argumentative child–maybe there is a personality disorder going on that you need extra help with. Never hesitate to reach out for help! All the best to you and keep me posted, ok? 🙂 XO aloha-

Are you sure you don’t live at my house??? This morning’s arguments were 1. Why we needed to buy the $20 bouquet of flowers instead of the requested single flower for teacher appreciation week (he lost this one) and 2. Why he needed to wear orange Skyzone socks with his gray and blue school uniform (I chose not to fight this one.) The most effective consequence for mine has been writing, “I will obey my mother withouy arguing,” 10 times/offense. Usually, he tries to negotiate the sentence to be, “I will say ‘yes ma’am” or “I won’t argue with mom.” I.e. Anything shorter…. So we have had to start adding sentences as a consequence for arguing about the consequences for arguing. 🙀 Sometimes it’s just nice to know we arent alone!

My 8 year old argues why all the time… or tries to reason his way out of my request. I told him I cared about his concerns, but he usually isn’t looking for answers, but rather just arguing. Now he has to grab a pen and write down all the answers to why (and I can come up with many) I tell him to do something. He now tries not to argue. But knows I am willing to discuss it and compare our reasons if its important to him.

My kids are 21, 18 and 16 (17 in June) years old. They have argued with me since birth and are still doing it. You’d think I’d get a lawyer out of at least one of them!!

Thank you so much…this sounds just how my son is. I definitely will use this tips. I love my son I had no idea how to help him or where to begin…buy again this is a start.

my 14yr old granson talks back to me draws his fist up at me but dont ever hitme ,screams at me.no matter what i take away from him he just gets it back out when im not there.gotten suspended now from school for disrespecting and talking back to his teacher?i dont have a clue what to do hes 13 and 6foot tall and will not mind me? he mumbles after i say something tells me “do it i dare you”when i tell him im taking something away or “i dont care go ahead”im at a standstill i dont have a clue …please help

Always talking back talking under the breathe when i remove his favorite stuff he even says i dont care,he love sports so being stuck on the house just allows him to do my annoy stuff like slam doors and say he didnt slam it.

This article is great and I can completely relate! One line I like to use is “I love you too much to argue” and it’s just over.

That is absolutely perfect! Thank you Lacey! (I’ll be using it!) XO Aloha-

Great article! I needed this. In fact, I just had a frustrating exchange tonight regarding consequences for being disrespectful and I found myself aggravated wondering what can I/we do differently? I am not afraid, or hesitant, to be an assertive parent, rather, I simply believe I don’t always have the answer and thus welcome external, effective methods to help my confident little go-getter understand respect, boundaries, etc. So, I’m going to give these tips a try!

Your tips are helpful reminders to help with a strong-willed child! Fortunately (and sometimes unfortunately), I have 3 very strong-willed boys who challenge and keep me on my toes daily. But I may admit that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! I do have one criticism, however. When I was young, I questioned and argued everything. I was thirsty for knowledge and why people (especially my parents) did and believed what they believed. When you say, “As a Christian, I am concerned that a kid who gets by constantly arguing with his parents will also have trouble submitting to God and His ways” it makes me shudder. I have no judgments on the religious. However, I was raised Catholic by very strict Catholic parents. And when I argued and questioned all things regarding Catholicism, I was regarded as having “trouble submitting to God and his ways”. But the more I argued, and the more I was told I was not submitting, the more I pushed back and eventually away. I’m not a Catholic or religious person now. If you want your child to remain religious, don’t view his curiosity and arguing as inability to submit. It’s natural for humans to be curious and ask questions.

Hi EK and thank you for taking the time to comment. 🙂 I’m guessing you just found my blog with this one article,not sure…Because in many of my other posts I have talked about how we encourage our kids to ask questions, challenge and even question their faith. How we believe that when they do find answers their faith is then only stronger. I do not want my kids to be “religious,” but do hope they always have a strong relationship with God.

Part of a good relationship with God includes understanding that His ways are best, and allowing Him to lead. So as my boys grow up in their faith I simply want them to have the healthiest, best relationship with God possible. Asking questions and challenging faith is good. Yet as a Christian we then grow up to love and trust God to lead us. Once we’ve committed to His ways it will only make life difficult if then try to lead instead of letting Him lead. There is a difference in those two things, though I probably haven’t explained it very well. 😉 I’m mostly just saying we have a healthy conversation about these things; we are not strict, legalist, or religious people. 🙂

My 11 yr old son is correcting me, arguing at everything I say and not following instructions even when I tell him if he doesn’t there will be a consequence. I feel as if he has no respect for me and thinks I am an idiot. He does not do this to my husband and my husband does not act like this towards me or anyone else. I am crying almost daily and losing my temper with him and then crying because I lose my temper. My husband is fighting cancer right now and the stress is just making my sons behavior worse. I am at my end with this and now am over being compassionate and trying to understand how he must be/could be feeling and just plain angry. My God my last job before staying home to home school him was the position of National Director for a Medical Licensing Consultant Corporation. I really am not stupid. I am very sorry and grateful at the same time that I am not alone in this. P.S. My son has ADHD so I think he is hyper focusing on me being the evil in the world

Lisa–I am sorry on so many levels. Perhaps part of your son’s issue is working through his own feelings about your husband’s cancer as well…? I know this is complex and I won’t try to offer too much specific advice, but I would suggest you find ways outside of conflict to really connect with him. Find an activity or special time that the two of you can regularly just build a relationship. He needs to feel safe sharing his feelings and working through the stress of growing up, having a dad with cancer, and so on. Besides that the best thing you can do is to offer firm boundaries and make sure to give consequences without emotion. He will learn more from suffering consequences (the loss of a privilege or favorite thing) than he will being yelled at our lectured. Hang in there and I will pray for you! Aloha

The arguing is extreme right now as is my reaction to it because of hubby being ill but this is just really who my little man is at the moment. Thank you so much for your prayers.

Lisa – you are not alone. I think I have your son’s twin, only my son is 14… I have been going through the ringer with him since he was 3 years old. don’t have time now to write but I will as soon as possible. Colleen

Hi…I’m dealing with a soon to be 8 year old…which could have been her in your blog…with the exception of surfing…Olivia loves arts and crafts and Lucy her male guinea pig…let’s not start with me and hubby explaining why the male pet should have a male name…..anyhow…Lucy is his name….gheez see what I mean…thank you for the tips

haha…Love it! Thank you for stopping in and commenting! Aloha-

Hey, I am not a parent yet, but I was a preschool teacher for several years. From just the examples you gave I would make two suggestions. Number one, give them warning when you are going to be expecting things to be done. In my classroom, when it was almost time to clean up, I would announce that everyone had 5 minutes before cleanup, then visually count down the minutes. This let them finish whatever they were working on, and gave them a clear picture of what needed to be done. Imagine you were reading a book, and someone came up to you and told you to close it immediately and go vacuum, don’t finish the chapter, page, or even sentence. I sure wouldn’t want to do that thing right away, no matter how much I love that person! Now imagine that same someone said, “hey, after you finish that page, could you vacuum the living room?” I personally would be much more inclined to do said task! Number two: it sounds like your child has a pretty clear idea of what they like to do. So on a day that you want to do a special activity, instead of telling them what you will be doing, ask what they want to do. Or, again, you can inform or ask ahead of time so they can be mentally prepared for what is ahead.

We have a rule in our house you say yes ma’am or yes sir and do what you’re told or asked. If you have an issue about it after you’ve done what it is you were told; then our kids are allowed to come to us and we discuss it. Always our rule is to be respectful first.

My sister and I discussed this because we both have that one argumentative child and she suggested saying “I love you too much to argue” every time that child started to argue. I’ve started using it in my house and it is hard to argue when someone says that to you because there isn’t a really good come back for that.

Ok that is just awesome. I’ll be trying it too! 😉 Aloha-

My aunt had some of the best advice ever for an argumentative child. She would simply look down at her watch and say, “I don’t have time to argue about this right now. How does Thursday at 7 work for you?” Worked like a charm!

Classic! Love that. I’ll be trying that one too! 🙂 Aloha-

I am about in tears reading this article and comments because I have a very opinionated 9 year old girl who just got her reading time taken away (and rest time on the bed instead) because of arguing. I told her that I loved her (and was going to finish with “but I can’t let you talk to me like that”) when she looked at me and said “then why don’t you act like it?!” (that was the last straw and the book was taken). I need to really stop the arguing when it starts – and give a consequence. I’m just praying God can get me through this habit.

Oh Amy…it’s challenging, that is for sure! Keep being firm and loving and you’ll get through it all fine. Blessings this holidays season! XO

I think it is important that when they argue with you you don’t become personally or emotionally engaged. Stay expressionless and disengaged and reinforce your request by giving a choice – this or the consequence!

We have an arguer & came up with poking him. Just to make him aware of his habit. Always ends up in laughs & breaks the cycle.

My 8 year old daughter is definitely strong willed, hard headed, and an arguer of all things… I think she argues for fun… At least that’s what it seems to me… I’m definitely on the verge of pulling my hair out although I am thankful for no grey hairs yet… Knock on wood… Thank you for these tips… I am definitely going to incorporate them in our lives… Not only for the sanity of me but for the safety of my child 😉

I have one of these kids also…We’ve tried SO many things to get her to stop, but she still argues with everyone! Last night was a huge episode, and it led to her and her younger sister almost getting seriously injured. I hate yelling, and I try not to when this happens, but my husband has a lot less patience and yells a lot when she does things like argue and disobey.

I have a 14 year old daughter who has ALWAYS been an arguer. She is very black and white….she is either for something or against it -but NOTHING in between. I know it can be a strength for her…but it is so frustrating to parent her. AND…she has to have the last word. ugh…

I loved your article and wish I had read it 10 years ago. My son also is very opinionated, actually so is the majority of the family. Growing up in a large extended family that was full of “my way is right and you are wrong” aka pastors, counselors, and teachers, you naturally pick up ways to deal with extremely argumentive children without killing who they were meant to be. One of the most successful tools that I can up with (and it worked so well that my bother and several other parents have used it as well) is called Moment Of Silence. When a child is being very argumentive and/disrespectful to others they lose the privilege to speak or communicate with anyone else for a set amount of time. Usually 15 minutes worked just fine but once a child earned a whopping hour of silence. This is surprisingly effective and gives all parties time to cool off and regroup. As long as the rules are followed and a parent doesn’t overuse it, it goes a long way in teaching a child to be respectful and does cut down on petty arguementing. The rules are: 1. The child is given a warning if they don’t stop they will have so many minutes of Moments Of Silence. 2. Use a timer for younger kids, older kids can time themselves. They usually glue themselves to the timer like its a lifeline. Allowing preteens and teens to time themselves gives them a sense of control and they are slightly less moody later. 3. In the case of multiple children all offending parties get time. The amount of time depends on their age. 4. No observing parties AKA other siblings or cousins are allowed to tease or try to get the silent child to communicate or they get a timer too. 5. No talking, writing, electronics, sign language is allowed. As long as parent use this consistently and sparingly it can be very effective in teaching your child to be respectful to others when speaking.

Well that is just fascinating! Thank you for sharing! Love the moment of silence and will probably be giving it a try as well! So glad you stopped in! Aloha-

Thank you Monica for this article. I could relate as I have an 8 year old son (who will be 9 in 3 weeks time) who has got a lot to say about everything. Sometimes I feel like I am a bad Mum because you are constantly in battle with him.

He knows most of the time that he is wrong but just to prove his point, he will have to argue. We have told him time and time that that is a sign of disrespect and that the Lord doesn’t like it. Even though his favorite verse is Ephesians 6:1-2, having that sinful nature, that easily can be forgotten.

I really appreciate the article and that gave me a new perspective on how to deal with him (and our other 3 who sometimes are guilty of that too.)

Blessings from the land down under,

Thanks for the tips! Number 3 especially will be a good one for us to use. I’ve got 2 strong-willed, smart kiddos too, so I feel your struggle! I too have also used encouraging words when they have quickly and easily complied with a request or direction. I like the idea of them noticing how quicly they can return to their fun when they follow-through immediately. however, I haven’t thought of giving them an official chance to “appeal” when they feel “wronged” by a consequence, so I will definitely use that one. Although I have done something similar in an “unofficial” way before, but I think giving it a name and a time to be used will help them feel heard and respected – so thanks for that idea!

p.s. As a side note, I noticed one of the ads on your side bar is for “sweet chinese women ready to date you.” It’s right above your amazon ad. I’m pretty sure that ad isn’t one you approved and thought you’d like to know! 🙂

Ok, so we virtually just spent our entire dinner time with our 16-year-old ARGUING about why he doesn’t need an education – “90% of people have a smart phone nowadays. You can find out anything you need to know without wasting time learning anything!” He’ll follow you around the house like a determined trial lawyer presenting his evidence until there’s nothing left to say. We’ve tried everything throughout the years … any great advice for a 16-year-old seasoned arguer … or, rather for his waning parents???

haha, oh Julie–Sounds like he is just really wanting to grow up, have a voice…figure things out for himself. I know it’s hard, but hang in there! As long as you are reasonable, and listen to him, he’ll get through this eventually. 🙂

Not sure if it will totally apply, but I literally just published a teen boy Q and A post and addressed disrespect in teens in that post. You might find it helpful. Here is a link: https://bit.ly/1Mcg9f3 (Arguing isn’t necessarily all about disrespect, but in case you find helpful hints in there…) Much aloha, and thanks for commenting!

I have one of those kids. I don’t know if this will help any individual person (or society in general), but I jokingly told my arguing, at the time, five-year old she loves to argue so much she should become a lawyer. Her eyes became wide and in a dumbfounded way she stated, “you mean I could get paid to argue! I’m going to be a lawyer!” Now at 15 1/2 she is still determined to become a lawyer and is on a mock trial team. God presents us with all sorts of gifts, nice when you can challenge it into something positive. 😉

I have a child that argues with everything I say. If it’s daily stuff I don’t engage in the argument. I just state what needs to be said and when he begins to argue I walk away. I make sure he heard before i walk away because he’ll say he didn’t hear me. Most the time he will comply because its the argument he wants so I take that part away. If he doesn’t comply then there are consequences. In the bigger issues I let him call a family meeting.

Two things we’ve been teaching/learning that I have my kids repeat 10 times, especially when they are arguing: 1–“Do everything without complaining or arguing….”–Phil. 2:14 2–“It’s better to be gracious that it is to be right.”

oh dear me. yes, yes, yes, and yes.

even to the argument over the colour of the sky!

she’s not yet 4, and many are the days that I lament the quality of our relationship since the day she turned 14 months. She’s a great little kid, but I am sooo detached from her because of all the ARGUING.

taking in all the hints I can, as we are entering another phase of ‘fun and games’ after a few months of comparable peace. So thankyou for your post 😀 i’ll be book marking it

Love these ideas. I have uses many of the same tactics. I’m liking the appeal process and will have to try it. I get the in a minute, I’m tired or do we have to go and my favorite…why can’t I just stay home. Anyway, I use the same tactic on my reluctant guy and remind him that he tells me to wait when I need him to him to do something. He says oh yea. I say see its about mutual respect. To get it, you have to give it.

This past year we learned that our middle wasn’t just a strong willed kid, he also was diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder). One in 5 kids that have ADD/ADHD also have it. It makes it to that when he gets over stimulated he has a hard time controlling his emotions/thoughts, and will act out and argue over everything. He loves Jesus though and was baptized this past March. With him we have to do a reward system that he earns everything – “If you do this, then you can do that…” rather than the consequences route. He still has consequences, but now it’s positive focus. Just wanted to share that sometimes there is something else going on that causes kids to argue/act out.

My son was recently diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder too. We knew he had ADD or ADHD, but didn’t know about the other. We are finally starting to see a counselor for this. I am wondering about the reward system idea. My son has some real backwards thinking. He thinks that he should be able to do things AFTER he has the fun thing… He says it makes him want to do the homework etc… It doesn’t happen! We struggle getting him to sit still and actually complete an assignment. It is sooooo hard when he has so many missing assignments and he can’t complete 1 of them. He will argue until forever and won’t see reason. It’s so hard. I’m pretty sure these techniques are great for the average kid, but mine with ODD, just bull dozes any attempts at conversation and reason. Consequences frankly make everything 100 times worse. Rewarding is definitely better, but still not a cure. One thing I found recently is: to make sure he feels heard. (That takes a lot of patience) as ridiculous as some of this ideas are to me at times, I have to make sure he knows I am listening and try and see his side of the story, restate his concerns. Then and only then can I introduce my ideas and rules. If I don’t it will fall on deaf ears.

Ok, so how can my son be sitting in the room with me while at the same time apparently in Hawaii with you? My 11.5 year old will argue anything. Even if it is WRONG. He has to win. It doesn’t matter if there is any logic to his argument. He could find a way to argue that the sun actually sets in the east and rises in the west.

I really see it as a pride issue. We talk a lot about how much bad tension it creates. How he will ALWAYS have an authority figure in his life (police, boss etc). That he is not honoring his mother and father.

He is our youngest and his older brother (by 15 months) constantly tries to control him (which is a whole other issue). As the youngest in my family I understand the desire to differentiate yourself and be heard. However, I see big problems in his life if we don’t get this under control.

There is a great ministry here in Oregon called doorposts and they have some great resources for dealing with issues.

I’m grateful for this post if for no other reason to get me focused on it and trying a few new tips. It is so difficult to stay consistent. For me, one of the hardest parts of parenting. They just wear you down so easily.

Oh I do relate to you. Your son sounds funny, but I get it–it gets old! 🙂 That sounds like a great ministry–thanks for sharing! Go get ’em momma. Have fun along the way too! aloha-

Oh, the memories! My second of four children , my husband and I always said he should be a lawyer. We joked that if he prosecuted someone that the would confess just so the wouldn’t have to be interrogated by him any more! And yes, when he was young, I was pulling my hair out trying to deal with him arguing and his persistence. I found Dr. James Dobson’s book The Strong-Willed Child very helpful. You stated that you are worried about him concerning God. My son is 30 now and is the most dedicated and disciplined about his religion and God. Hang in there Mom and don’t give up ( or in!) and he will grow up to be a very loving and devoted young man. Prayers for you and all the moms who have strong willed children.

Awww, thank you Kathie! Love those stories of 30 year old sons who are dedicated to the Lord and self disciplined! I’ll take all of those that I can get! Much love to you and thank you–

Thank you for taking the time to write this!, very helpful, like you said it, summer is a good time to work on these bad habits. We have hope in Him! Thank God for his grace to help us parenting. ♡♡

Oh my word have I needed this! My almost 13 year old argues about everything too. The running joke – funny but not funny – is that EVERY TIME we ask her to do something she automatically has to go to the bathroom! She always has been the one to disagree in our family – often for the sake of disagreeing. We also have nickname for her – Opposite Girl. Thanks for these tips. One thing our pastor shared that they did in their parenting was informing their children that when they are asked/told to do something there were two allowed responses – 1) yes or 2) they can ask a question, like may I finish this first, or something along those lines, understanding that the answer to the question could be yes or it could be no. We have tried (albeit inconsistently) to implement that in our family.

Oh my gosh! I was just complaining to my husband about my son, he’s 6. And he absolutely challenges me in every single thing that I ask him to do. The thing with my son is he’s super stubborn too. I took away his privileges like playing games on iPad or watching TV, but it just never seem to make him learn. He’ll do the exact same thing the very next day.. Or even the next hour! Sometimes I feel like my hair is falling off more and more each day I’ll go bald!

There is a lot of good advice here, and, for the most part, I like this article. But words like “submission” and “obedience”, to me give way to a whole behavior set that allows children to be bossed around and owned by people who do not have their best interests at heart. And no one should follow direction from someone they cannot trust to keep them from harm. Children need rules and structure. But phrases like that, if used often enough, will hinder a child’s sense of self-worth, teaching them instead that their worth is to be measured by others. And no one, not even us parents, should be telling our children what their worth is. That’s something they have to determine, and hold on to, themselves.

So glad to see someone else having trouble with the submission and obedience. Those words really cause me trouble. I hope we aren’t raising kids who just obey authority for authority’s sake, but will do what is right because it is right.

I used to dish out extra chores for arguing and fighting with sibling. They’d disappear like lightning when done. I miss those daily bumps in the day. Its so quiet around here with them grown.

Yes, we have at least one of ours that is a strong debater. We’ll ask her “Now, _________, does Scripture say ‘Children debate your parents in the Lord?'” =) That’s what it comes down to with most things she disagrees on–a debate. Thanks for the ideas.

haha–I’ll definitely use that one! Thanks for sharing. Much aloha!

Wow! It’s good to know I’m not alone. I have one these specia little boys who is 8 and I like to call him the hellion. Of course not to his face :)) but when my blood pressure rises off the rictor scale before 8 in the morning it’s not good. As we all know it doesn’t do any good to raise our voices or get angry back at our children when they argue over and over and over. Which usually is the case. And when this happens me sweet boy seems to shut down and get more defiant and angry. What we have started to doing is because he CAN NOT deal with the answer no, or he shuts down when I get after him for arguing about the simplest little things , we started a feelings book. He rights down how he is feeling with any situation going on when he’s frustrated he can’t have it, or when we can’t do something, and then he leaves it for us to read and we respond. It’s amazing how much he has opened us to us and he’s even apologized a few times for some behavior that a 2 year old would be doing. It’s helped him to see that we don’t always get everything and that we really do love him. I always have said from the get go he will take this strong personality and do something great with it one day! But…. I want it to be for good, not bad. I hope I can figure out so it doesn’t turn into rebellion as a teenager or worse.

My son is now 19. There was nothing I could threaten him with that worked-ever. He never had any privileges because they were always taken away for his disrespect and lack of obedience. He still argues continually to this day. Even when try to talk to him or rationalize he won’t back down and it has cost him three jobs in six months. He will have a very rough life and i’m afraid he’ll never ‘learn his lesson’. I had hoped it would work to his advantage at some point, but i really don’t see that happening. It can be very serious and the teenage years are so tumultuous you will swear you won’t make it through. Good luck to anyone facing a child like this. Spend a lot of time in prayer together and counseling too-the earlier the better. if i had only known then what i know now….

Once I didn’t take the Xbox away I just took all the remotes to work. He now knows I will do that.

These are great tips! My kids seemed to go through this as a phase. But some just seem stuck in this mode! I love the appeal process.. Sounds good. Thanks

Look up Oppositional Defiant Disorder.. I heard about this the other day and it was interesting..

Yes! And she gets it from me! Sigh. One thing a good friend of mine taught me to say was, “I’m not going to argue about this with you.” (about small things) “I hear you, but this is not up for debate.” (Medium things.) “We can talk about, but that doesn’t guarantee that I will change my mind. God made me your mother (we are your parents) not you mine (ours). He must have a reason. The final decision belongs me. (us.)” My friends has 6 really decent (something you can’t always say about kids these days) respectful kids- so it must work… (I’m still waiting for it to pay off all the time. Repetition and consistency.) Also… sometimes you have to let them live by the life consequences of their disobedience…. so so hard.

Amen! And I love all of those ideas. (Isn’t it great to have friends with good kids to model after?) XO Aloha!

My youngest would have made an excellent attorney–she left no stone unturned in her zeal to come up with arguments to support her side of any controversy. In those growing up years, I taught myself a couple other survival rules. “Pick Your Battles” not everything we could have argued about was really worth it in terms of family harmony. I learned to shut the door on a messy room–except when there was company. Hair styles were another biggie in a house of females. As a Mom, my mantra was: it will grow out and they will grow up and NOT want that purple mohawk by the time they hit college. “If you can let up in some areas, when it comes to important arguments” you maybe as startled as I was when I told my then high school daughter there was a party she could not go to–no parents home, driving at night with a new license, etc., etc. We went round and round until finally she looked at me and said, “I knew you would say no, but it was my job to try!” That one still makes me smile!

I enacted the exercise 10 rule! He will start arguing. I ask him “Are you thinking this through son?” He will usually stop in his tracks and ponder for the moment. Then he chooses his response. If an argument insures he does 10 jumping jacks or 10 pushe-ups or 10 sits while he states his point. He can jump and argue but usually he just turns around and goes to obey! I have learned if he is persistent enough to argue while he is doing the exercise the point is pretty much very important and I most likely need to listen! Sometimes however he realizes how silly it is to argue the point and he starts laughing then heads off to obey!

Please explain to me more about this VLOG exercise you practiced. I need all the help I can get as I already do the other things suggested. Thanks!!

I have a 12 year old son who has been strong-willed since the womb. (Had torticollis when he was born because he wouldn’t move positions.)I love what strong will can mean as an adult. But my concern right now is, if he wants to take a stand he better have a leg(or two) to stand on. I want him to ask himself “why” is this important enough to me to argue? And have substance to back it. You gave me some great ideas on how to deal with daily “don’t wannas”. Thanks for the input.

I call my little contrary boy The Lawyer. He can come up with a cogent argument about anything. It’s mentally exhausting!! He’s 6. Yeah, I know… I’m in trouble. I seriously admire the kid’s ability to express himself so thoughtfully and persuasively, but it does lead to a negative spirit in the home. Thank you for the tips! I’m going to be employing their use immediately!

I so needs this today! I’ve pretty much been doing everything you discuss, but not with resolve or a coordinated effort. I told my 6 year old he had lost his birthday party privileges because his behavior was so uncooperative that it jeopardized his baby brother’s 1st birthday party in January. I told him he had to earn the privilege back, but ever since he’s consistently getting 1-2 notes home a week from school about disruptive behavior and behavior at home is even worse. I upped the ante last night by telling him that not only would we not be celebrating his birthday, but he would continue being 6 until he acted 7. It sounds harsh, but it’s not just being argumentative, it’s defiance and disobedience that is or has the potential to get his little brothers hurt.

A couple of things we’ve talked about that is different/additional from what you’ve discussed…I use the question “are you helping or hurting?” a lot. That helps call attention to his destructive/argumentative behavior in a way that appeals to his natural inclination to be a critical thinker. We also talk about being a leader vs being a boss…because we have talked about the fact that he has some natural leadership qualities, but he’s not ready for the responsibility (because he’s not just argumentative, he’s also bossy).

Thanks for your post…trying to keep my head and my resolve!

I haven’t seen anyone pick up on this yet. In Item #4 there is this: “Perhaps one warning/reminder is reasonable. THEN: Doll out consequences with a smile and strong back bone. ”

Doll? I believe the proper word is “dole.”

Has anyone else commented?

No Mike, but thank you. I’ll go edit now! 🙂

I realized my kids want me to “wait” to do something because I too often make THEM wait….example, when my – year-old asks “Mom, can you get me a glass of water?” Or “Mom, can you help me with my homework?” My own response is often something like, “I will in a minute” or “After dinner” so I am trying to be more willing to stop what I AM doing just like I would expect them to.

Oh wow Stacey–SUCH a great point. I think I need to practice this area too! Thank you so much for the comment. 🙂

i had a son who always had to have the last word–especially with his dad. I gave him permission to always have the last word, but it had to be in writing and he had to give it to me. I promised to read it, and if I felt he had a valid argument, I would talk to my husband. I think he actually took me up on the offer only one time, but the arguing with his dad stopped.

Thank you Delilah. What a creative idea. I love it!

We kind of have an issue with this in my house, but we have managed to work around it (mostly). First off, we don’t ‘tell’ the kids what to do, there is always a please in there so we call it asking….we tell them they have x amount of time before chores start, usually 5 minutes, but sometimes on weekends they will start a 30 minute tv show before I get them started so I give them a job where they can either start when it is over or work while watching like clean up the living room floor or dry the dishes (kitchen and living room are open to each other). Second we find that a job like cleaning their room is too overwhelming for them (except the 14 year old!) so we break down what we want done….sometimes having them write it down so they don’t keep coming to ask what was next. It all depends on how dirty their room is at the time. Third we always make sure it is age appropriate. I have 3 kids 14, 10 and 5 so I can’t give my 5 year old the job of washing the laundry, the 14 and 10 year old can (although the 10 yo does need a little help), so the younger one just has to bring her clothes out, fold them when they are dry (again sometimes with help) and put them away. We do still get arguments, but we try to forestall them by giving a warning cleaning (or chore) time is coming soon.

No I agree w/ you but I am still a kid

Thank you Dakota! Glad you agree…And kids are welcome here! aloha!

My son will be 13 this week. He has always been adventurous, busy and argumentative. When he was young, I learned the value of giving him a choice between 2 options rather than a command. I still have to remember to do that, even if it’s no choice at all–such as, “Would you like to walk the dog now, or this evening when the rest of us are watching a show?” We have had lots of sit down conversations. I homeschool, and sometimes when the stress of keeping up with everything has me frantically resorting to commands, I have a few quietly spoken buzz phrases that remind my son to halt mid argument. The first is for the tense times; “I don’t answer to you, you answer to me.” The other is easier, when I still have my humor; “I know you are training to be a great lawyer one day, but right now, could you just be my son?”

Currently reading Setting Limits with your Strong-willed child, Robert J MacKenzie.

just came across this page but I had to say I laughed about something! if you scroll down to the 2nd picture where your son is upside down on the chair and scroll down to where the bottom of your computer screen hits at his knees (only seeing his legs) it totally looks like he’s sitting and dangling his feet over a rock cliff!! It shocked me for a minute thinking WHAT DID YOU LET HIM TALK YOU INTO?!?! LOL!!!

Love it. I have 3 boys that are prone to argue.

My arguer is 14. I have found that following the guidelines above when he was younger now allows me to say to him, “Stop. (Do whatever I just asked). We will discuss this later.” I do find myself saying “stop” frequently, but he is learning to pull himself back, too. I am hopeful that the next four years will continue to show improvement in his self-control and discernment. I have no fear that he will loose his arguing skills.

My son just turned 15 on December 21. He was diagnosed with a ADD last spring. Sometimes he is so difficult I could cry!! My husband and my son have a tough relationship. My husband was actually much like my son when he was a child. He didn’t have a good relationship with his dad either. My husband says it’s amazing that he didn’t cause his father to have a heart attack! Anyway, it is sooooo stressful being around this all the time. I’ve often wondered if plain old hard a-s work wouldn’t cure my son as well as help him with his ADD. Older people who had to work hard physically when they were young seem to have so much more respect and better work ethic than kids today. Does that make sense? My mom was raised on a farm and she and her siblings are the smartest people I know! Being outside and doing “down to earth” type work makes such great character and surely, being outside doing things would help with the ADD part of all this, right? I am not joking when I say I have thought about sending him for the entire summer to work at a dude ranch or something! What do you think? I love him to death but am at my wits’ end! Does anyone know of a safe summer (preferably Christian) program where my son could go that might straighten him out?

Mary–I think you are super wise actually. In fact, I think all kids (mine included!) would benefit from a lot more physical work! I don’t know of anything just like that, but I would absolutely keep looking if I were you, and if I happen to come across something I’ll let you know! 🙂 Keep praying…God will lead you to something, and it seems like some sort of work–even in your own community, might both keep him busy (therefore less stress in the home,) and teach him so much for the future. Hang in there–It will get better! 🙂 Aloha

Love this post! (Great strategies and helpful reminders. And, yes, I’ve got a little guy half the age of yours who fits the bill). He started Tae Kwon Do this Summer though and that coupled with me taking it on newly (delivering consequences more like gravity, etc. etc .) has produced some break through results! It’s still a practice for me and for him, but, it was helpful to both of us to incorporate the martial arts philosophy for extra inspiration! He’s doing very well in his class which has helped both of us see the positive side of his determination. He’s learning submission and obedience to the Masters while also learning appropriate real world applications for when it’s appropriate to fight back (pretty much only when attacked). It’s helped him channel his assertiveness into something useful and tempered his sense of impulsiveness to be much more mindful. I can not say enough great things about it!

Hello! My son is 4 going on 40….. and surely has a career in either being a lawyer or politics in his future! He argues and negotiates better than anyone I know! Are there any methods that work well for his age? It’s so exhausting sometimes!

Oh you are not alone…my youngest is also four, and he’s right there too! I think in the next few weeks I’ll dedicate a post to the preschoolers out there–trying to rule the world! 😉 I’ve had a lot of moms sharing ga similar frustration. Stay tuned…and meanwhile just keep up the great work. Much aloha!

I definitely know the arguing child. I have a 6 year old girl who thinks she listens to me as a good deed of the day, lol. I love your tricks and have one more: I let her argue any point once, but what I say after her bit is final! I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes she has great ideas and I want to consider them, but sometimes it’s not the greatest idea and then she needs to accept that and respect my decision!

Yes, I have one of those children, who is now 17 and is still an arguer. He has suffered some natural consequences and many imposed consequences along the way to learn which mountains to battle on with certain people. I know he will be an excellent leader some day. —-The battle weary mother.

I totally can understand a child using things to barter for what they what! My child has attempted this many times with us. Our child likes to argue as well. We have been successful though with setting boundaries and allowing our child to make decisions that are positive and negative knowing the consequences. We congratulate him on the positive decisions and enforce the rules on the negative decisions. Reminding him that he made the choice knowing what would happen in the end has really taught him to think before he acts.

Great article! The book “You Can’t Make Me, but I can be persuaded” by Cynthia Tobias is a great resource on this subject! My “little guy” is now 24 and very pleasant to be around. 🙂

Thank you for that suggestion, Cheryl! I’ll look into it. The title has me intrigued! 🙂 Aloha, and glad to hear that your little guy has grown up well…:)

what about the child who has an excuse for everything? This was very well written and helpful! Perspective is so needed in my house. My strong willed one is my oldest at 17 and when he doesn’t win an argument how it’s laid out here, he’s coming up with massive excuses from I’m “not feeling good” to blaming me for “holding him back”. It’s difficult because I can see him doing this with others, it’s never his fault. He lives with smaller children so he acts immature, he goes to school with kids who cuss so he lets it slip, these other parents are better so he’s just biding his time till he gets to leave. Harder than I thought it would be to have an older teen.

Thank you Andi…Yes, you do have your work cut out for you. Let’s hope this is a stage and he grows out of it? I’m wondering if you have already read my post “What a teenage boy needs most from his mom?” Here’s the link: https://monicaswanson.com/what-a-teenage-boy-needs-most-from-his-mom/ Some of the thoughts in there might apply well to your son’s situation. Hang in there and don’t give up…God bless!

Oh, wow. I have never connected those dots before, that my little lawyer was being disrespectful. I’m going to have to think about that and talk with her daddy. But I like the appeal idea. Thank you for an excellent article. (We homeschool as well.)

Can you give me more info on your appeal process? Perhaps an example og a decision that he can appeal and time Frame he just wait?

Hmmm…Great question, Merry! Maybe something I should consider dedicating a post to. But off the top of my head (something recent and pretty simple,) here’s one: I tell my son that he needs to finish all of his homework before we go to the skate park. He immediately says “But I…” I know him well enough to know that he is arguing out of habit, so I stop him and say, “Please do not argue. Say a simple ‘Yes,’ or ‘Yes Ma’am,’ and head directly back to your desk. I will come in to check on you in ten minutes and if you have something important to say, I will be ready to listen. He gets back into his school work, and in ten minutes often he says “never mind, I’m doing fine.” But he might also say “I wanted to know if I could do everything except my reading, because I look forward to reading in bed before I go to sleep.” (or something else along those lines.) To which I would completely agree that he can do all of his homework and save his reading for later.

Sometimes a compromise is super reasonable, but more often he argues just to be contrary! 🙂 Hope that helps a little… And I’ll consider a post full of examples! aloha!

Sorry for the billions of typos there! It’s late! Haha!

Love the article. As a mother of 6 ….5 boys and 1 girl… I know these stressed all too well. My youngest son (who is a twin with his sister) is 11 years old is exactly who you andre describing.

The other day the boys were arguing and we did our regular thing of all sitting down & taking time to all speak our peace then discussing concerns and solutions. When it was his turn he started tattling on his older brother. I said “it sounds like you’re tattling to me, rather then diacussing” He responded “No it’s not tattling. …it’s a narrative”

As a high school teacher, I always appreciated the parents who taught their children to be respectful, and also the young people who had made that choice on their own despite a lack of proper teaching.

When I told students something and they argued, I had fairly standard responses. For example, a student gets up while I’m teaching. I say, “You need to sit down.” He says, “But I need to sharpen my pencil.” My response was standard: “I did not ask why you got up. I told you to do something, and not doing what I ask is disrespectful, disobedient, and disruptive. Have a seat.”

Short, to the point, with an explanation that avoids (with most students) continued argument. If I said that EVERY SINGLE TIME, the disruptions usually began to be few and far between.

Brilliant, Mary! Thank you. I love to hear from school teachers–you guys have the most experience and wisdom! 🙂 Aloha-

Thank you for posting this. It is my 4 year old daughter to a tee. I had never seen this kind of strong willed child before, but it was definitely present since birth. When she was a baby, I sang the nursery rhythm “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” to her, but substituted her name for Mary. I use all of these tips. The other one I use as often as possible is give her two options that she can choose that are equally acceptable to me. Even then, she’s likely to try to argue, but then I just get to choose.

My son likes arguing a lot. He’s 26…so I think is almost nothing we can do.

What do you do, though, when the argumentative child is a step-child, whose behaviour is never addressed in the other parent’s home (where the child spends the most time)? I truly love and care for my stepchildren but their other parent – who has unilaterally reduced our parenting time with the children, without permission from the courts to do so – actively encourages the kids to disrespect me and my spouse. The other parent then uses the children themselves as the excuse for reducing our time, saying that the children don’t want to spend time with us so we shouldn’t force it. All of this has had the effect of making one of the children, already an argument-prone personality, an absolute nightmare.

Try reading Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Lehman. Sooooooo helpful. He has one about the powerful child…. i haven’t read it yet though.

haha–I have that book sitting right here! 🙂 Yes, it is good. It’s been years since I read it but I just pulled it out recently to go back over.

(This ended up longer than I planned, so bear with me!)

I love the idea for an appeal rule. I think it’s a great way to offer them a chance or a warning but to keep them in check. I absolutely agree with you that kids need consistent consequences. From experience I can see a HUGE difference in my children’s behavior when I’m intentionally and consistently disciplining them verses the times I get lazy and it feels like too much effort or such an inconvenience to step away and deal with their misbehavior.

My only addition to what you wrote would be that our kids also need to be taught that what they are doing is sin. When they argue, it is disobedience and disobedience is sin. I want my kids to choose to do the right things because it’s what Jesus would do and because it’s how we are called to live in front of the lost; not “because I said so.” I’ve seen so many of my friends from youth group walk away from the Lord because they were only taught a list of do’s and dont’s. They never saw it as a relationship!

Parenting is so much harder than I ever thought it would be (silly 22 year old me…) but I love being able to read blog posts like this and walk away encouraged with new, fresh ideas!

Thank you Alaina–Super good points and I totally agree…Sounds to me like you’re doing really well, keep up the good work! 🙂 Aloha

Oh how I have needed this! My 9 year old daughter is already a habitual arguer! My husband and I are about to pull our hair out! I are going to implement these and pray for the best.

Thank you for this blog! We have an 8 year old, bright, outgoing child who seems to argue every.little.thing….it’s exhausting and frustrating at times. I agree…while we don’t want to stifle his potential leadership skills, we tell him constantly, that he needs to listen to us (mom and dad) and his teacher. Yes, he argues with her too.

Oh wow this helps alot… im going to have to try these with my niece.. i swe at it seems like every little thing she likes to argue about. I’ve tooken tv, her favorite dolls and even grounding her to her room.. it seems like nothing works. I’m really glad i got to read this!

oh so glad! Thank you, and let me know how you do!! 🙂 Aloha-

Sigh…some days I just have to sigh:) When discussing drugs one day, my son reminded me how strong his will is and he has no interest in ever doing drugs. In that moment I was so thankful for his strong will. Other moments, like all day long lol, not so much. A friend tells me often, just tell him to do it and make him- um ya if you don’t have a strong willed child- you have no idea

This came across my news feed after a horrendous morning of constant argument from my ten year old…complete with the sympathetic hug from his seven year old brother. I have no additional suggestions to add, only gratitude for your ideas and knowing that I am not alone with this. He’s going to be an amazing young man some day…I just have to be patient.

you and me both…:) Hang in there momma, and keep doing your best. Thanks so much for commenting. Aloha-

Our 2 year old grandson was fussing and complaining because Papa wouldn’t stop the car and help him find the toy he dropped (we were in a tunnel). At his age, I’ve been discussing with him the issue of arguing. So I asked him, “Are you fussing and complaining?” He thoughtfully replied, “No, I’m just talking.” : – )

This was an amazing read. I am currently dealing with 4 children all of whom like to debate and attempt to change my mind once I have made a request or decision. These tips will go into action immediately.

Oh how I LOL’ed at the “sky is not blue it’s Aqua”. That is an argument we have had with our now 10 yr old, no lie! It’s exasperating to say the least, esp when he is arguing with one of his 2 brothers, it worries me that they will grow up as adults and still act this way. Love the ideas and some of the ideas in the comments. We will definitely be trying some new ways to curb the arguing!

Any advise for husband’s who argue all the time? Lol and ugh

keep your sense of humor!! 🙂 Thanks Susan, you just made me laugh. 😉

this is very good. I have a child that also “has to have a response to everthing you say” which isn’t exactly arguing, but a subtle form of it. If I say X there will almost always be a rebuttle, reply, defense, etc. even if it’s simple request or comment that I as a parent have every right to make..such as telling her how what she said or did to a sibling was not appropriate…then there is a “reply”. I ahve let this go on so long that the anger factor is not prevalent in me and I am not handling the disrespect I feel even thought he comment in and of itself is innocent enough. Pretty sure ALL my kids are doing this now. Would you consider this arguing?

My child is a wonderful, respectful grown adult now. You can do this:) I recommend giving choices. For instance, do you want to skate or surf? or do you want to clean your room first or take a shower first? The point is that it gives them the feeling of choice and some control. A strong willed child doesn’t like to feel cornered, so choice can help.

This article was very timely, however my son is 3 and isn’t at a stage where reasoning really works but he is sure to put up a fight. He’s going through a stage where if I say left he says right; if I say up he says down, you get the idea. I didn’t go through this with his older brother who is 5 now so I’m at a loss. He also has anger issues and again I’m not sure how to help him at his young age. Does anyone have any advice for the smaller arguers?

Thanks Julie– I’m totally with ya–I have four year old who is just like that. Actually working on a post just for toddlers, so stay tuned and hopefully it will help offer some ideas (I’ve done this three times before, but I always need reminders! 🙂 Much aloha to you and keep up the good work!

Thanks so much! I will be sure to keep an eye out for the toddler post!

My son did this! At two, just offer the choice you don’t want, then agree when he chooses the one you *do* want! 😁 My 44 year old husband recently asked his mother when reverse psychology stops working and she just looked at him with a mischievous grin.

This post could not have come at a better time! I have a 7 (nearly 8) year old who has made it his life mission as of late to argue every little thing with me and it is driving me nuts! I appreciate your process in nipping this habit, but would love a little more clarity on the “appeal rule”. How exactly does this look in your family, as I have tried this for big items and it seems he will appeal (and turn it into another method for arguing) endlessly. I suppose I need to come up with consequences first, but I also wonder about age appropriateness. How does a 7 year old differ from a 10 year old in this matter? He is my oldest, and so this is all new. It is also a little scary because I have a 30 year old brother who does the same thing…I refuse to accept this as my future!! I’m soooo frustrated and weary on this issue. Please help! Thanks so much for your post.

I have read some great teaching on the “appeal rule.” It said that the child’s FIRST RESPONSE needed to be of obedience (if you asked them to go to bed, they get up and start moving towards their bedroom). Then, they can RESPECTFULLY ask for an appeal (Mom, could I please finish coloring this picture before I go to bed?) They MUST be prepared to obey, whatever your response is, but we are to say YES as much as possible, unless it is non-negotiable. If they use this as opportunity to argue, they can lose the privilege of appeal for a certain amount of time.

That is a really great point! So glad you added that. The respectful tone makes all of the difference. Thank you–

Thanks for this clarification! Totally helps. Need to make a plan with my husband asap! (especially before the kids are out of school and amping up on all things Christmas)

The book I got this info from was Shepherding a Child’s Heart, and also, Chip Ingram has excellent parenting resources.

We have a lawyer in ror house (older child)…he is indeed strong willed and had a good opinion on everything but we need to teach him humility. We have been doing some I’d the things you mentioned but as well as teaching him gfs among the time of his voice and listening first. He can’t raise his voice to anyone older than him even if they are wrong. (Just to teach him respect for adults, that’s a big thing for us). He is sweet and responsible kid but really is so smart and opinionated…We are learning from him…

My son likes to negotiate… If I saw iPad in 3 hours, he will ask if he can have it in 2 1/2 hours instead. It drives me crazy. I simply tell him it’s not up for negotiation, but he still tries. I guess that is still a form of arguing….

If I say you can have it in 3 hours and mine respond how about 2 1/2, I tell then they can have it in 4. It works most of the time.

What do you think about pointing out each time they argue and that it often serves no useful purpose…. Arguing just to argue! Ugh. I wonder if they realize that they are even doing it. With my kid (10 year old boy too), it seems like it’s his automatic reflex to refute whatever someone else says. The negativity and disregard for the feelings of others is starting to really concern me. Thanks for this close-to-home post!

This my son all the way! I want him to be a leader but he gives me the blues with his arguing! LOL Thanks for the tips and I will try them!

What a great read! My son is only 4, but we deal with this constantly. I’m really worried if something doesn’t start working now it will be a nightmare as he gets older and in school (and at home, and as an adult). We are consistent with discipline, but sometimes they just do not work. I never thought I would be a yelling parent, but he pushes and argues so much sometimes. I’ve been in tears over it and the only other thing I know to do is pray. I’m going to continue to work on some of these, but any suggestions for a younger boy, perhaps?

Oh Erica…My fourth son is four and I still haven’t figured it out! 🙂 I think consistency is our key (and my downfall,) so the more you can focus on that, the better. Lots of love and lots of discipline. These (in my opinion) are the hardest years. Work hard now and it will pay off when he is a teen! Much aloha!

Great article! I’m going to try the appeal idea for sure! Our oldest son started arguing right when he started speaking, practically…if I said, “what a pretty blue sky!” he would the sky was green! We started asking the kids to say “yes Mom/Dad” to acknowledge us after requests and it’s helped with respect. Actually, my mom’s favorite response to “but I was just” is to say “I didn’t ask a question, so I don’t need an answer”. In some cases, I’ve used that one too!

Bridgette, thank you. Love that–I’ll be trying your mom’s response too! 🙂 Keep it up…Your efforts will be rewarded. Eventually! 🙂 aloha!

I WAS nodding! My arguing child is now 22,a college student with an awesome co-op job and is very goal oriented. He still likes to argue when home BUT less now that he lives independent. Recently on a weekend home visit I asked him to do something. He said” I do not live here anymore. ” I said,” I know that’s why I am thinking about renting out your room. ” that ended the argument. LoL. Just to reassure you most children that are do argue are still mostly obedient. They just argue first them follow through. Mine did. Wears a Mom down at times. But I always knew he would be a productive purpose driven human being.

awesome story, thank you for sharing. We need all of the encouragement we can get when they’re still young! Good work, and much Aloha!

My 2nd child of 4 children is my back talker. His grandfather was a lawyer so we always like to say he just likes to argue weather he is right or wrong. It’s in his blood. I was glad to hear that they may be less likely to give into peer pressure so now I can look at it a little different rather than just disrespecting the authority in the house. Thanks for the insight.

Wonderful points! I, too, have a shaggy-haired blonde boy who loves to argue. He has an answer, rebuttal, or correction for almost everything we say. We call it attitude, but it is really an argumentative nature. We struggle with the fine line between supporting his independence and teaching him respect and humility. Sometimes I find myself getting sarcastic with him, (e.g., well, since you are the expert, maybe you should ask your coach if YOU can coach the team since you know best), and that approach, while it often shuts him down temporarily, isn’t a great way to handle it. By the way…we LOVE Hawaii and spend a lot of time on Kauai. What island are you on? Best of luck with your son.

I do I do I do… I have one of these guys. “But I’m just gonna…” is his go to response whenever he’s asked to do anything. And somehow even when I’m serving cookies, he finds a way to argue with me. It is exhausting. I often ask him if he will respond to his boss, his college roommate and his future wife the way he does me. He swears he won’t, but I tell him that he’d better practice being less argumentative with me then!

I teach school, and I hear the “But I was just….” excuse all the time. “I was just going to sharpen my pencil”, “I was just telling her what we are having for lunch”, and on and on. I use humor and it works pretty well. When I hear “I was just..”, I will ask, if you are speeding and a highway patrolman pulls you over, do you tell him “I was just in a hurry?”. Then, do you expect him to just say “Well, ok, then, in that case go ahead and speed?” It points out the behavior, keeps it from becoming an argument, and usually is enough to get the child back on track. I agree with all who say not to engage an argumentative child. If it starts I can usually say “Yes, ma’am is all I need to hear from you now. If you want to discuss it privately with me later, let me know after class.” Works most of the time! I’m glad I came across your blog. Your Christian approach is refreshing.

Karen–LOVE your approach (humor is always so wise!) and your perspective as a school teacher! Oh, you teachers must really face this all the day long! 🙂 Good work and love your ideas! Aloha!

Well my son loved to argue. He’s 23 now. To be honest, I like having a little distance between the two of us. Although I miss him, I don’t like to argue with anyone at all. It makes me uncomfortable. So I’m glad to have space from him. My 6 year old daughter more seems to say she wants water if you say you have juice, just to get attention I think. But I don’t think she’s arguing to be right. My husband will say its rainy if I say it’s sunny. I just have to accept this because then we definetely will argue. But I can’t say I enjoy it at all. From my experience, because my son challenged my authority, and I let him have his way. Because he was so challenging, I learned that someone out there would lead him, and it was not a good way to be lead. They are going to be lead by someone or something if it is not the family, then the consequences can be quite bad.

Good luck. I have 3 of those kids of my own, and I was one. Best advice I have to offer, Do NOT engage if there is no room for negotiation. Walk away or stop talking.

It’s amazing how it sneaks up on me and I suddenly find I’ve become ‘lax about stopping it right away. This week we reached a frustration point, but instead of doling out consequences, we decided a retraining week was in order. We put 100 pennies in a jar for the child we are needing to retrain. Every time she doesn’t respond FIRST with “okay” or “yes mam/yes sir,” then she will go to the jar and give us a penny. Of course, 1.00 isn’t that big a deal…we’re more after the act of stopping and becoming aware of the wrong response. We’ve added that she can ask, “can we please talk about it?” After the initial willingness to obey response, but if we say no, she has to act according to what we have instructed. If we can, we will do our best to hear her input, but sometimes the circumstance needs prompt obedience, not argument, and that’s what we’re trying to retrain. We’ll see how it goes!

I’m the same with the whole “sneaking up on you” thing==How often I’m suddenly saying “Wait a minute…I’m negotiating again! When did I get back into this habit!?” Sounds like you’ve got some great ideas–awesome job. Love those ‘retraining’ weeks too–we’ve had a quite a few of them in our home! 🙂 aloha

Mom of four here, ages 9 to 18. I have dealt with this from both the oldest and youngest. The youngest, boy, has adhd and yes, he argues everything! The hardest thing for me is actually unknowing at the time, stooping to his level and partaking in the fight. Before I know it things can get quite out of hand. A few months ago I was at my wits end and why I didn’t think of this sooner is beyond me! But after bringing it to his attention, explaining how it was affecting everyone in the house he agreed to start praying about it, asking God for help with obedience and respecting others. The turn around was so quick!! As far as the oldest, girl, the arguing never got nearly as bad as it was with our son, thankfully! But I can say that it is true about the argumentative child growing into a strong adult. She amazes me with her strength, determination and self confidence!

thanks for the comment. And I am especially encouraged to hear about your oldest being strong and determined and self confident! Yay! 🙂 aloha!

I have a 14 year old boy who has ADHD as well. He argues everything and then goes and does what he wants, then tells me that I never told him he couldn’t. Any advice would be welcome and very needed. I’m to my breaking point!!!

Since I’m not an expert on ADHD, I probably shouldn’t try to offer too much advice…:) But wondering if you have also read my most popular post about Teenage sons and moms… Here’s the link: https://monicaswanson.com/what-a-teenage-boy-needs-most-from-his-mom/ I’m a biggie on communication and also setting expectations with appropriate consequences for breaking rules…It’s tough, and I”m sure in your situation even tougher. Hang in there and the work will pay off! Aloha–

Our 7 year old also has adhd and we tried the Kazdin method. It works well when we are consistent in using it. I have read Love and Logic as recommended in this article and there are some similarities between the two methods.


My arguer has a different meaning (in his mind) for respect and authority – this helped our problem immensley. Not the arguing, but it helped me & his dad to know all is not lost – he does respect us! Now to work on how he shows it 😉 Also, it helped to explain to him that some situations don’t have anything to do with knowledge, since at 12, he knows EVERYTHING!

These are great tips! Thank you for sharing. We’ve been through this as well. It’s not so much the verbal side as it is the flat out disregard for exact direction following. 🙂 Our boy thinks as long as it gets done, what does it matter the order. Lol. For the parent that has the ‘may I ask why’… praying for you, that it doesn’t turn in to another form of arguing or constantly having your parenting/authority questioned all the time like I did with my mom. Grace to you all.

Thank you for the great article. I live this EVERY day of my life. I have a 14 yr old that has ADHD, Asperger’s, Bipolar, ect. I also have a very impressionable 9 yr old. Both girls. Problem is, my 9yr old is picking up the habits and behavior of her older sister. One can’t help it, the other one SHOULD know better. I have tried everything under the sun, and I haven’t found anything that works yet. I have no pearls of wisdom for any parents, more or less, looking for other ideas. Its hard enough raising a child with special needs, but then throw in the arguing all the time from both of them is maddening. Then, you as the parent, end up feeling like garbage and sometimes insignificant. All in all, it stinks. But good luck to all of you other moms and dads who have found success in whatever method you have chosen.

Karen, I know this is a whole year ago, but your reply caught my eye. . . I think raising a child with special needs adds a whole new element, doesn’t it? I read your post today and am praying for you. I teach in a school where we have behavior challenges with kids with special needs and kids without the special needs. I know a little bit of how you are feeling (like garbage and insignificant). I want to encourage you to keep on. You are a definitely not garbage. You are loved by God, created by Him and for Him. You are made in His image, just as your children are. Each child is so different and have different needs. I am praying for you today for wisdom, strength and endurance!!!!

Hi Karen This really struck a cord with me too. I have an nearly 9-year old son with ADHD, Aspergers and now it seems ODD too and a 7 year old son who is “normal”.The 7 year old is picking up everything from the older one including the near constant arguing – with each other, with me, with their father, with teachers, with other children. It seems some of the usual tactics just simply don’t work with kids with special needs particularly as the Autism side of things, at least for our son, means auditory processing delays despite a sophisticated vocabulary (all the better to argue with..) and the ADHD means things like consequences and reward systems are often forgotten or lost interest in before they even started. I too have no real answers at the moment and we just keep forging ahead and trying new things. What works one day is unlikely to work on another. The only advice I have is keep yourself healthy and don’t feel guilty if you get the opportunity to occasionally do absolutely nothing except sit/walk/bathe in complete silence. Forget the housework for a morning or the email inbox and just enjoy the silence. It is as restorative as you may get at the moment All the best

Thanks for a great read. Our daughter will start arguing before she has even processed what you just said to her. No amount of consequences has ever had an impact on her behavior so we found a different method. After a long talk about character, honor, love and respect we set up a reward system. Everyone she is caught trying not to argue or demonstrating a good attitude she earns a tile. Each tile is worth 5 minutes of special, one on one time with the parent of her choice doing an activity of her choice (within reason as this can get expensive). We saw an almost immediate turnaround and it has kept her motivated for months. Nothing has ever had a lasting impact before. She voluntarily talks about how much better she feels emotionally. I will even hear her tell her brother they should take a break from each other when she feels an argument building so it has helped my son be aware too. This strategy has been life changing for our family.

Love this Beth! I think your strategy has potential with my argumentative first born. Quality time is her love language! Why didn’t I think of this! Thank you!

I love this!! Such a meaningful way to reward, especially for a girl! My very argumentarive 5 year old girl will love this. Thank you for sharing!

Ohhhhhh emmmmm geeeeeee! My son, through and through! Right before I read this, I asked him to do something and he said ‘hold on, I’ll do it after I’m done…’ Ugh.

My husband says it’s interesting that the traits we admire in adults, we don’t like in our children! So so true. When we moved here to eugene from Seattle, he has decided to really prove he’s really working on his admirable adult traits!!

I can not thank you enough. Blessings to you and your family for sharing! ~Sarah

Awww, Thank you Sarah! 🙂

The arguing… my nemesis. My kindergartener will argue anything, or just ignore you. He actually told me ” I hate being told what to do!’ Yeah, join the club! My 2nd grader will counter any requests with, ” But, I was …”. Big sigh. Love the appeal rule, will try it immediately with our oldest and our decision to add an element to his nightly homework not assigned by his teacher.

well done Shannon! (extra homework HAS TO have some effect…:)) And yes, I remember when my particular son was about five and he said “I want to be the boss of everyone in the world.” I knew then that we had a long road ahead. haha. 🙂 Keep up the good work!


No one likes being bossed! My arguer likes having SOME power so I’ll phrase it like he has a choice: “you can brush your teeth yourself or I’ll do it for you.” I know he wants independence so of course he chooses the option I want him to follow. Another example: “you can clean your room or Lose TV privileges for the rest of the day” if he chooses the wrong thing I remind him that I’m disappointed he chose that.

Excellent! You’re right. I have done this, too. Also, in making requests that don’t seem like being bossed is a good method, too. Instead of saying, “Make your bed,” or “Make your bed, please,” stating it in a different way works. “It’s time to make our beds. Would you like some help? (most of the time the answer is no)” So tricky! Parenting is definitely another school all together.

I am a grandparent of a five year old boy in kindergarden and pick him up from school several times a week and keep him until bed time. This kid, also, will argue about absolutely anything and everything and absolutely not give in! I was so frustrated yesterday, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I am going to approach it different today and lay down the law about how disrespectful it is and give him a consequence when he does. I have to be strong about this because I don’t want an obnoxious grandchild. I, also, intend to try harder to praise him when he does something right – which he does a lot – but the arguing OVER RIDICULOUS THINGS has got to stop.

Oh you are not alone Kathleen! Thank you for sharing…the struggle is real! 🙂 Hang in there and yes, be strong! (and yes, praise praise praise as well…) By the way–bless your heart for watching him several times a week. That is awesome!

Thanks, Monica. I sometimes wonder what happened to being a grandparent who lets the kid(s) do anything they want; just has fun with them and then sends them home to the parents when you’re tired of them. However, I really try to support my daughter and SIL in how they raise him and really want him to grow up with manners and being respectful. Plus, he has a baby brother on the way and will be 5 3/4 when baby is born and I am sure this is going to be difficult for him to adjust to so we really need to work hard on the respect and obeying issue. He has always been a willful child and is having issues in kindergarten, too, because of it. I will not give up, though, as I love this kid to death!

Thank you so much for these great ideas! We all know every little bit helps. Our son especially loves to challenge us on issues regarding morals, family values and social concerns ( along with everything else that pops up). Setting aside a time for discussion takes a lot of negativity out of daily routines. I think I will also encourage him to make notes to himself throughout the day in preparation for these discussions. This will give him time to reflect on some out of the outlandish statements he makes and whether they are really valid enough to present during discussion time. I sure hope this works!

love the post Monica and ooh how we’ve tried the appeal with our oldest. We often joke that she will become a lawyer. The biggest thing when assigning a consequence is that it is something you are able to adhere to. If you are taking away a Trip the Disneyland (done it!) then you have to be willing to make that happen. Also don’t punish yourself in the process. Don’t take something away that in the end punishes you. That’s it that’s my share for the day. Great job my friend. You’ve found your calling!!

Jen!! You sweetheart! 🙂 Thank you and it’s so much fun to see you here! I love your point (you seriously took away a Disneyland trip? I’m so impressed! :)) but so true. I’ve accidentally punished myself more than once! I hope to meet that strong daughter (and all the rest!) one day. I know I’ll love ’em all! Aloha!

We took away a Wisconsin Dells waterpark trip. Rough to do!

My son and I have spent most of his growing up with just the two of us. When our son was 11, my ex decided try to get back into the parenting gig. I have to sometimes chuckle to myself at his hollow threats that hurt himself… If our son isn’t quick enough to answer his phone when his dad calls, his dad threatens to cut off his service. Um, doesn’t that mean you absolutely cannot get ahold of him? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? I only did that to myself once when our son was about two… I learned not to come up with consequences on the fly. I try to think ahead and tell him (so he knows the deal beforehand) or have him go to his room for a few minutes so I can think clearly when something new comes up.

Oh how I loved this! My son will be 7 in a week and a half and he LOVES to argue about everything…but first or but I was just and my favorite is “I’m not going to do that”. Frustrating is the word. He definitely gets his stubbornness from me though I was not allowed to be so argumentative! We’ve been trying hard to get him to scale back. What’s worked is allowing him to ask why to things. Go make your bed please. “May I ask why.” I ALWAYS make him ask if it’s ok to ask why and then once he gets the explanation he is more willing. Love your tips as always Monica 🙂

Tania–Great thoughts! “My I ask why?” I’m gonna use that with my little one for sure. Thank you!! Aloha

I like your Why idea. My almost 6 year old tends to argue most times to understand. If I make him wait and come back, he will have forgotten and this frustrates him since he isn’t arguing to be rude most times, it’s for the knowledge and curiousity.

Thank you. What a great read. Both my kids do this. I want them to be leaders but it sure does give me grey hair. Thank you for the tips! I will be trying this!

Oh, Sister! You are preaching to the choir in this one. I think all 4 of my boys are guilty of perpetual arguing throughout the day, but The Baby has developed it to an art form. We (mostly) affectionately call him The Contrarian, as is whatever you say, he’ll argue to the contrary.

We’ve recently began to dole out extra chores and/or acts of service to boys that decide to argue just for the sake of arguing. If they argue about chores or school, then they earn an extra chore to lighten another family member’s load–usually the one they were arguing with in the first place. If they seem to be going out of their way to antagonize someone, then they must apologize, “hug it out,” and then do something kind for the other person.

So good Kirsten! And I’m laughing out loud because I seriously MEANT to mention how I have begun referring to my particular son as “quite contrary!” haha…It’s a great word for these types. Sounds like you’re doing a lot right. Keep it up and one day..Well, one day our kids will have kids! Haha. 🙂 XO

A 14-year-old’s behavior makes a parent feel like giving up

argumentative 14 year old boy

Q: My 14-year-old son has begun to set a precedent of lying, drug use and abusive speech toward teachers (primarily female, in my observation). I’m horrified. He just started high school last week. He failed most of his eighth-grade classes because he did almost no work. Last year was abysmal, and I can see this year may not be better. I’ve found evidence that he’s sexually active, though he insists he is not. I have forbidden him and his partner from spending anymore time in his room with his door shut, not just because of his age but because the partner is not even allowed to date. I’ve explained this to my son, the amount of trouble they could end up in and that I’m not into keeping this secret from their guardian (grandparent). Now he spends almost all of his time away from home, which I’d honestly be okay with if I knew he was doing his schoolwork, etc. I enjoy not being a target of his teenage hormones and bad behavior! It’s so nice!

My question is, how can I deal with him nicely and neutrally, while still enforcing boundaries and rules? His behavior has kind of made me start to really dislike him as a person. At this point, I’m assuming he’s always lying to us and up to something devious. And when I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt, I’ve always felt stupid afterward, as most often, he was lying. I’ve talked to him about this and tried to open discussions on all of these topics, but nothing changes. He refuses to see a therapist, even after he’s asked twice for one and I’ve found them. (I think he was just trying to get medication and be done with it, which didn’t happen.) I love him so much, but I don’t like him right now, and I need to save my sanity and hopefully get us all out of this unscathed! He’s my youngest out of three, but the others are much older than him, and I guess I forgot how hard the teen years are (plus I’m so much older now, too). I’ve always been a free-range type parent and honestly wouldn’t focus so much on the bad stuff (except the woman/teacher/me treatment) if he kept up with his responsibilities!

A: Thanks for writing in; you have quite a few challenges with your 14-year-old son. You’ve asked a very important question: “How can I deal with him nicely and neutrally, while still enforcing boundaries and rules?” And I’m going to be honest with you: You are past the place of dealing with him “neutrally.” The lying is not great, the drug use is also not ideal, but the abusive speech toward teachers? Your son is not coming home? We are much, much past the “how hard the teen years are,” and I’m concerned that you’d be okay with some of these behaviors if he “kept up with his responsibilities.”

Our culture is a bit confused when it comes to teens and their behavior. We seem to have a collective misunderstanding that our teens are supposed to lie, abuse alcohol and drugs, and become belligerent. We believe that our teens are meant to push us away and become defiant, disobedient and disrespectful, but this isn’t true. Are teens known to push boundaries, have trouble seeing around the corner and engage in some risky behaviors? Yes, but parents don’t have to accept this fatalistic view of teens, and when we do, we don’t give teens enough credit, while also letting ourselves off the parenting hook. For more of this viewpoint, pick up “ Brainstorm ” by Dan Siegel.

I don’t know why your son is angry (angry enough to threaten women), but he is headed down a very dangerous path. At 14, it’s not too late to make some big changes. I reached out to John Duffy , a psychologist and author of “ Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety .” He specializes in teens, and while some of your son’s behaviors are concerning, there are other behaviors that require immediate attention. “The abusive speech, the drug use, the sexual activity. These are a matter of health and safety, and managing them needs to be nonnegotiable,” Duffy says. This means that even if he cleans his room and throws out the trash, “they won’t get better on their own and are likely to deteriorate quickly.”

It can be difficult to want to help your son when he is so tough to be around, so Duffy recommends thinking of these behaviors “as symptoms of some underlying emotional discomfort your son is suffering, and either not fully aware of, or not sharing with you. With some renewed empathy, you’ll find the energy to act on his behalf.”

Because of your son’s treatment of women, drug use and rampant lying, immediate crisis intervention is needed. Duffy says to get your son to a therapist “to assess the level of care (outpatient therapy, inpatient work, intensive outpatient therapy or day treatment) he needs. So, you need to consider what leverage you have with your son, and be prepared to use it. This may be revoking privileges like curfew or access to WiFi, or your goodwill with him. I know it’s been difficult to get him to see a therapist in the past, and this is tricky for teenagers, especially for boys, many of whom continue to carry the idea that therapy suggests some weakness. So ask him to agree to a limited number of sessions. I usually suggest three. In three hours, a good therapist with experience working with children in his age group should be able to gain buy-in. Talk to the therapist beforehand. Ensure they have experience with your son’s issues, and his resistance to treatment. Then, your job is just to get him in the room.”

I would look at it like this: He is headed down a path of possible violence, jail time or death, and so make it a priority to get him to a (preferably male) therapist who can see him as a young man in pain.

You also should get family counseling. Whatever has led your son to this level of anger needs to be addressed within the entire family, and the support he needs will also need everyone’s cooperation, compassion and attention.

Please do not wait to help your son. He is only 14, and he has the potential to live a happier and more stable life. Get the support you need, stat. Good luck.

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Newsletter Articles , Raising Adolescents , Raising Boys

Dear mums of smelly, unmotivated, lazy, moody and confused 14-year-old boys.

argumentative 14 year old boy

“The problem I am having is with my 14-year-old son who does not apply himself to his school work at all. He won’t revise, study or plan at all. His grades are weak and failing in some major areas. He just won’t apply himself and is lazy. In his own words he can’t be bothered. And on top of that he refuses to acknowledge his body odour or wear clean clothes! Help!

In my many years as a secondary English teacher and then as a lucky mum of four lads I met so many 14-or-so-year-old boys who meet the description above which came to me via a concerned mum.

On top of the concerns already expressed are forgetfulness (left his backpack with PC and smart phone in it on the bus for example), increased disorganisation (I thought the test was tomorrow?), mumbling and monosyllabic responses (whatever!), endless hunger (there’s nothing to eat!), badly behaved penises (especially at breakfast), every excuse for avoiding chores and a passion for wearing favourite daggy clothes – preferably sans undies!

I have received many desperate emails from mainly mums asking me what could have possibly happened to their beautiful boy, some even contemplating whether their lad had been stolen by an alien and replaced.

Many parents ask me: ‘Where did I go wrong? How can I fix this?’ and express concerns that unless their lads start to apply themselves at school they will ruin their lives forever.

If we are able to keep in mind that the journey of adolescence – for boys and girls – is the transformation from being a child into an adult – an independent responsible adult capable of making sound decisions – then it will make sense that adolescence needs to be seen as a time where mistakes and confusion need to be seen as normal.

“Why bother?” he asks…

One of the leading boy experts in the world, Michael Gurian, believes that there is a unique drive within boys and men that shows up when they choose experiences and events on which to focus.

Winning competitions or completing things to a level that they feel is acceptable gives our boys a sense of self-worth that they give themselves. If there is little chance of doing well enough, or winning, there is a tendency for some boys to avoid participating to do it at an obvious, less competent level so that their authentic self-worth can be maintained.

Many 14-year-old boys are just ‘cruising’ at school, not striving to excel and yet hoping not to fail. Many boys also want to be achieving at a similar level as their best mates and so often it is simply ‘not cool’ to be achieving academically.

Research suggests that boys and men tend to prefer to be single focused rather than multi-focused and with so much happening all at once –body changes, hormonal changes and brain changes – this time is especially confusing for teen boys! Plus this is the window of the natural awakening of sexual awareness and desire, and as the penis is outside the body, it can make some moments really awkward in the immature boy-soon-to-be man.

For many 14-year-old boys this is also the window where their brains do the most significant brain pruning and for those boys who already had some challenges remembering things and finding things like milk in the fridge or their socks, then becoming even more forgetful can make them feel really useless, even stupid.

Yes they will forget to clean their teeth, do their chores, totally forget to attend the orthodontic appointment you set up, and often have no idea what day of the week it is.

They may also consume far too much Milo or even steal the tin and hide it in their room. They struggle with big ugly feelings and can be known to punch a hole in the wall if a sibling has eaten the last biscuit in the tin!

This is not intentional. This is not deliberate. This is a sign of an early adolescent brain doing some early modifications. With an increase in moments of perceived failure, boys create a fake mask and hide behind it in order to protect themselves from not just the chaotic world and also from themselves!

The many masks of adolescence

There are many masks – the smart alec, the clown, the jock, the bully, the cool dude, the shy mouse – usually with long fringe hiding their face. They especially need this mask at school as it is really much like a war zone for boys – so many rules, expectations, different teachers, classes and being challenged to do tasks they are not sure they can conquer.

Many boys are struggling with heightened levels of anxiety that they mask and have no understanding they even are having as they simply mask anything that may suggest vulnerability of any kind.

At the same time as the brain pruning there is an increased production of testosterone and a hunger for creating dopamine, the feel-good neurochemical that comes from having fun, doing risky stuff, watching scary things, gaming and doing physical activity that they love.

Boredom, being threatened by figures of authority, lack of movement and being asked to do things that they consider have little relevance to them are serious good brain chemical killers.

If you are struggling with your son’s gaming passion, knowing that it ticks all his passions – fun, risk taking, winning, making dopamine, playing with others and having people who like him share the experience – maybe you could try my 10 Agreements for Healthy Balance.

Poor choices

A sobering statistic shows that your chances of dying during adolescence especially for boys increases by 400% especially in rural areas where four beautiful boys can be killed in a car accident after just two seconds of poor choice making.

Making poor choices has a lot to do with an insufficient amount of myelin – the white matter that grows with age – and boys often make the same mistake again and again.

Many deputy head teachers will attest to this frustrating reality. You need a significant amount of myelin to make better choices, the ability to plan for the future, to motivate oneself for an academic goal –especially if there is no guarantee of success, to learn from your mistakes, to delay gratification from feeling good in the moment, to manage impulses – especially the need to fart loudly in class-and to feel empathetic towards your frustrated mum – are all attributes of the executive functioning part of the brain that does not finish developing until around the mid-20s. Still, keep sending him links like this !

I found 14-year-old boys have the worst impulse control and love to use their hunger for body connections with their mates randomly – shoving, pushing, slapping, sitting on and bumping  –and just laugh when sanctioned or even when they hurt one of their mates. It can be beyond frustrating!

The biological wiring to belong with friends and peers is another factor that explains much of the Neanderthal-style behaviour that happens in many classrooms. So many boys of this age call out inappropriate things in class:— “Look who’s got a stiffie!” or “Jenny farted Miss!”. To get all your mates laughing with you is incredibly important to the developing boy-man. It means I belong and I matter. It also makes some positive brain chemicals that help them be less aggressive and angry.

Sadly many boys around this age are punished harshly when they do break things accidentally or when they hurt a mate. Their intention was to have fun and connect more deeply with their friends and not to hurt anything or anyone. They will immediately become very critical internally at themselves and when they are not heard or understood, it can create an irrational anger that often comes out later at sport, or at home. Having these ‘bugger’ moments managed with compassion can make such a difference for our impulsive, fun loving adolescent lads.

14 -year-old boys are emotionally fragile and cover this with many of the behaviours that make mum especially frustrated. I once worked with a lad this age after he almost took his life and he shared with me that his mum had frozen him out after he had a lousy report. He thought she had stopped loving him and he did not want to live without her love. Freezing out is a female way of expressing displeasure that girls and women know well boys do not see it the same way.

I have also worked with a 16-year-old lad who again was almost lost to our world because his mum wanted him to take maths and science subjects when he wanted to an arts course as he loved music. She told him he would not be able to live well or be successful if he did the arts course. He almost preferred to die than to disappoint his mum. Fortunately this was able to be resolved.

Our 14-year-old boys can be smelly, unmotivated, lazy, moody and confused at the same time as being frightened, sad, emotionally vulnerable and wanting to do well. A warm unconditionally loving relationship with their mum can be unbelievably important.

So my suggestions to the mum who is incredibly frustrated and confused:

Thankfully 14-year-old boys are only 14 once and as they get older they mature and become better at managing their brains, hormones and bodies. If you can hold their hearts gently while they are 14, they will love you forever mumma.

PS: in case you haven’t seen this it might be worth a watch… Part 2 is also available.

From Boys to Men: Guiding our teen boys to grow into happy, healthy men

Maggie’s 2020 book,  From Boys to Men: Guiding our teen boys to grow into happy, healthy men published by Pan Macmillan Australia, is available in ebook, audiobook and print. Maggie also has a Webinar Masterclass Series based on this book including a whole webinar on ‘unsticking’ your unmotivated teen son.

argumentative 14 year old boy

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Why teenagers are disrespectful

Disrespect is a common part of teenage development, although not all teenagers are rude or disrespectful.

It happens partly because your child is developing, expressing and testing independent ideas and values, so there’ll be times when you disagree. Developing  independence is a key part of growing up. It’s a good sign that your child is trying to take more responsibility. But your child is also still learning how to handle disagreement and differing opinions appropriately.

Also, your child is trying to balance their need for  privacy with your need to stay connected and show you care. So sometimes you might get a rude or disrespectful response because your child feels you’re too interested in their life or activities.

Your child’s moods can change quickly too. Because of  the way teenage brains develop , your child can’t always handle changing feelings and reactions to everyday or unexpected things. And this can sometimes lead to over-sensitivity, which in turn can lead to grumpiness or rudeness. Teenage brain development can also affect your child’s ability to empathise and understand other people’s perspectives, including yours.

Sometimes disrespectful behaviour might be a sign that your child is feeling stressed or feeling anxious .

Teenagers are also starting to think and feel more deeply about things. Some young people seem to have a conflicting and radical view on everything, and they might question previously held beliefs. This shift to deeper thinking is a normal part of development too.

And sometimes teenagers are disrespectful because they think it might be a way to impress others, or because they’ve seen their friends behave this way.

No matter how grumpy or cross your child gets, your child still values time talking and  connecting with you . You just might need to be a little more understanding if your child is short-tempered or changeable. It can help to remember that this phase will usually pass.

Handling disrespectful behaviour: communication, relationships and discipline

Tips for communication

Tips for relationships

Tips for discipline

Things to avoid with teenage disrespect

Arguing rarely works for parents or teenagers. When we get angry, we can say things we don’t mean. A more effective approach is to give yourself and your child some time to calm down.

If you’re  angry or in the middle of an argument , it will be hard to discuss calmly what you expect of your child. A more effective approach is to tell your child that you want to talk and agree on a time for a conversation.

Being defensive  is very rarely useful. Try not to take things personally. It might help to remind yourself that your child is growing up and trying to assert their independence.

Even though you have more life experience,  lecturing your child  about how to behave is likely to turn them off listening. If you want your child to listen to you, you might need to spend time  actively listening to your child first.

Nagging isn’t likely to have much effect. It might increase your frustration, and your child will probably just switch off.

Sarcasm will almost certainly create resentment and increase the distance between you and your child.

When to be concerned about teenage disrespect

If your child’s attitude towards you and your family  doesn’t respond to any of the strategies suggested above, it might be a warning sign that there’s a deeper problem.

You might also be concerned if your child:

If you’re concerned about your child’s behaviour, it’s OK to seek help and advice. Here are some things you can do:

It’s important to  look after yourself too. If you’re managing your stress and meeting your own needs, you’ll be better able to meet your child’s needs. Friends and family can be a great source of support , as can parents of other teenagers.

Teen aggression and arguments

Find out how to cope with heated arguments with your teenager, and what to do if they become violent.

This page covers:

How to defuse arguments with your teen

How to deal with violent behaviour, concerned about mental health issues, help and support.

It's useful to remember that your own behaviour can improve or worsen an aggressive situation, so it's important to be a good role model for your teen.

If you act aggressively but tell your teenager not to, they will not listen. It's also helpful to remember that their anger is often based on fear that they're losing control.

Try these tips:

Breathing exercises can help take the intensity out of an argument. Take a deep breath, hold for a few seconds and then exhale. Repeat 5 times.

When your teen is calm, suggest this technique to them so they, too, have a way of controlling their anger.

Remember that teens may not know how to handle their anger, and this can leave them frustrated and frightened.

However, as with toddlers, if you give in to teenagers because their shouting and screaming intimidates or baffles you, you are in effect encouraging them to repeat the unreasonable behaviour as a way of getting what they want.

Sometimes, teen aggression can turn into violence. If they lash out at you, or someone or something else, put safety first.

Let your teenager know that violence is unacceptable and you will walk away from them until they've calmed down. If leaving the room or house is not helping, call the police. After all, if you feel threatened or scared, then you have the right to protect yourself.

Family Lives offers this advice for coping with, and helping, a violent teen:

If you're worried that your teen has a mental health problem such as depression , talk to a GP. They can refer them to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, who in turn can refer all or some of you for Family Therapy.

You can also contact the Young Minds Parents Helpline on 0808 802 5544 (9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday) for advice and support concerning mental health issues in young people.

If you are having trouble coping with your teenager, and you suspect you may have symptoms of depression or other mental health problems, discuss this with a GP. They can then suggest suitable treatment.

You may, for example, be referred for counselling, or directed to support groups or other services in your area.

Read more about the benefits of talking treatments .

There are many organisations that offer emotional support and practical advice to you and your teen. At such an important development stage, it's important that teens learn how to communicate well and express anger in a healthy way.

Page last reviewed: 9 January 2020 Next review due: 9 January 2023


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