May 21, 2013,
K.B. asks from Detroit, MI on May 18, 2013
5 Year Old Just Wants to Argue About Everything!
My daughter has always been a strong-willed but very sweet natured kid, and at 3 and 4 could often be challenge to deal with. Things seemed to even out after she turned 5 and started kindergarten - she got better about listening and following directions and life didn't seem to be such a battle of the wills all the time. Now the past couple of months it seems to be starting back up again. She will be turning 6 in August and it seems like she has to talk back and argue over anything she can - even when I know I am right, it's like she doesn't want to believe a word I say.
She wanted to go on some website where girls can design their own clothes and then the parents can order them. She told me, "They just send you the clothes in the mail!" I told her they had to be ordered, and they cost money, and I wasn't going to be buying anything -she has plenty of clothes already. She insisted that the clothes didn't cost anything - they just came in the mail. Even after I pointed out to her on the website how it worked, she didn't want to believe me. When she started crying and whining about it, I sent her to her room to calm down and set a timer for 30 minutes before she was allowed to come out again. She also was banned from the computer the rest of the day.
She had a bath tonight and I brushed her hair through. She brushed her teeth and then wanted me to brush part of her hair again because I hadn't done it the first time. I told her I did brush all of it and she said "No you didn't!" and continued to argue with me. I ended up doing it again because it was just easier to give in and brush her hair real quick and get her off to bed than continue to argue with her.
These are just 2 examples, but this is how it goes on all the time. If I tell her to stop arguing, she'll say "But I'm not arguing!" If I tell her I don't listen to whining, she will say, "But I'm NOT whining!" in a very whiny voice. She also keeps pestering me over certain things that she wants that I've already given her answer to. She will ask, "When is E going to babysit me again?", "When are we going to go to Disney World again?", "Am I still going to get a hamster for my birthday?" and so on, over and over (as in, at least once a week). I tell her the same thing every time, but if it's not the answer she wants, she continues to whine over it, until finally I raise my voice and tell her she needs to stop already, because I don't listen to whining. She basically talks and chatters and asks questions constantly, and isn't really quiet until she's asleep in bed. If I tell her no to something, she wails, "But WHYYYYY???"
I realize it might seem silly to continue to argue with a 5 year old, but I find it really disrespectful that she thinks she can continue to insist that she's right all the time and just keep talking back. Aside from sending her to her room for 30 minutes or more at a time everytime it happens, what else can I do to get it under control?
So What Happened?™
Thanks for all the responses so far. I ended up having a little talk with her this morning (which I think works better because it's less emotional than in the heat of the moment) and hopefully made it clear to her that she doesn't need to keep talking back and arguing after I've told her something - there will come a time in her life where it will make sense for her to argue her point, but right now she's the kid, we are the parents, and when I give an answer, it's not going to change. She does not have to have something to say about everything and if she continues to pester me about it, she's going to have to cool off in her room alone. Just to be clear, I had never implemented that long of a time-out before. I would routinely give her 5 minutes, or until she decided to calm down and be nice again, but her arguing over the computer was so over the top, we needed that time to help us both calm down. I also felt I really needed to put her in her place - I also get sick and tired of putting her in time-out in her room and having her yell and carry on about how she's scared in there (oh, come on, it's your bedroom, not the basement or a locked closet!) and keep asking why she's in there. The 30 minutes (with the timer set) gave her a chance (I think) to really feel more remorseful for arguing with me, and I got 30 minutes of peace and quiet to read part of a magazine.
Thanks again Mamas, I really appreciate it!
ETA - we do do a lot of 1-2-3 Magic and it typically works - I'm just getting tired of always having to use it!
K.M. answers from Chicago on May 18, 2013
When my son decides to "challenge" my statement(s) I remind him that I am the adult, he is the child, while he can ask questions, he can not argue with an adult - it is rude and disrespectful.
30 min is too long for a punishment of any sort for such a young one. 1 min per year is the reccomendation and I agree with that. However I also agree that the 6 min do not begin until the child is calm.
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A.S. answers from Boca Raton on May 18, 2013
I would be inclined to just go along with her wild story and then brush it off. It sounds like she gets attention from you which is what she is really wanting.
That being said it's been a LOOOONG time since I had a five-year old so I'm rusty. I promise you that it does pass. My oldest was like this at times and he's a wonderful young man today at 19.
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J.W. answers from Detroit on May 18, 2013
Sometimes kids will ask the same question repeatedly because they want to be sure that the answer hasn't changed. With my students at school (yes - even 10, 11, and 12 year olds do the same thing! LOL) I will ask them the question back. For example, if you daughter says, "When is E going to babysit me again?" Ask her, "When IS E going to babysit you again?"
Just remember it takes 2 to argue (and Tango!). If you have answered once and she continues to ask ignore it. Or send her to a quiet place or time out if you have told her to stop asking. It takes TONS of patience, but she will eventually learn. I have used the " You can keep asking, but the answer is not going to change" line too.
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D.. answers from Miami on May 18, 2013
You need to stop letting her have center stage with this arguing, mom. Walk away from her. By continuing to engage in this, you are rewarding her for her behavior.
Yes, she's being disrespectful, but she's too little to see it like that. In order to learn to be respectful, she needs you to give her a consequence for behavior that shows disrespect, and that means not giving her any attention when she refuses to stop doing it.
Tell her ONCE "You are arguing with me again. You are NOT allowed to argue." If she continues, walk out of the room. If she follows you, start your count "That's one." Then "That's two". At three, put her in her room and then set the timer.
If she whines, tell her "I don't understand whining" and ignore anything she says. When she uses her normal voice, "turn on" again and answer her.
When she starts this asking of questions over and over, just start laughing at her and walk away. Seriously, you do NOT have to answer the same question 5 times in a row! Laughing helps prevent a blow up on your part and teaches her a bit of a lesson. I promise you that others will laugh at her, so she needs to learn what that feels like at home first, in an appropriate way. This is an appropriate time to do it.
I know you're a vet, but I urge you never to promise her that she can have a pet at a certain time in the future. It's a decision that you should make in the present, not in the future. You might think that she will be old enough when she's "6", but it's not the age that is important. It's her level of maturity that's important. Making promises like this to children can set YOU up for failure or give them too much power over you. You don't want that.
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M.P. answers from Portland on May 18, 2013
It takes two or more to argue. Stop trying to convince her you are right. Give her the answer and walk away. As to brushing the hair, what does it hurt to brush it again. No need to even tell her you've already brushed it. She her asking you to brush it as her way of spending a bit more time with you.
When my daughter was young, I argued with her all the time. Since then I've learned how to not argue. I say what I have to say once or maybe twice. Then I stop. I may walk away or I may just bite my tongue and stop talking. If you don't respond to her she won't get upset and continue to whine. Be in charge of the conversation.
My daughter complains a lot about how her daughter argues all the time. This is one of those situations in which Grandma has finally figured it out. My granddaughter tries to argue with me and sometimes I fall into the trap but most times I don't. It does take practice to learn how to not engage.
When she asks the same question over and over, either give a short answer, repeating the same thing in the same words or say, "I've answered that already" and walk away or ignore any further comments or behavior from her.
Whining means she goes to her room or another room because you don't want to hear the whine. At first you may have to physically guide her but if you're consistent she'll learn to either stop whining or to leave the room.
As most of us did, I hated it when my parents said, "because I told you so." I've decided it's OK to say that in other words. I try not to say I told you so but sometimes I have to. Examples of other words are, "because it's the right thing to do, because it's my decision, it's time to accept what I said, no more discussion." It sometimes works to change the subject without answering the why.
My daughter and now my granddaughter chatter on and on. Don't tell them (LOL) but I tune them out some of the time.
I don't see arguing as disrespectful. That probably helps me feel less upset about it. I see it as the child trying to figure out her world and how it works. They're also hoping we'll change our minds. So it's important to stick with what we first say so that they will learn that we don't change our minds. I've fallen into the trap of allowing them to convince me and thus changed my mind. This doesn't work. Never change your mind. I make sure before I say something that I'm going to be able to stick with what I say.
Talking back is disrespectful and it warrants an immediate trip to their bedroom or the time out chair. No arguing. No convincing them you're right when you call it talking back. Just tell them to go.
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E.T. answers from Albuquerque on May 18, 2013
1. Pick your battles. It's probably not worth fighting over brushing hair or other simple things. And telling her that a dress costs money really shouldn't be an argument. It should be you explaining things to her. Maybe if you stop arguing about so much, she'll more readily accept that you do actually know things.
2. Stop engaging with her. Tell her it's not up for discussion when she starts arguing.Tell her something once or twice and then stop answering. Don't answer when she whines.
3. 30 minutes is a pretty long time out for a five or six year old. I have two six year old girls, and we do six minutes, or however long it takes to calm down (if it takes longer than six minutes).
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C.M. answers from Chicago on May 18, 2013
Definitely pick and choose your battles. I have noticed that when kids argue, they are sometimes just trying to communicate with you and they just don't know how.
With my daughter we had a rule that "No means no." She would always continue to argue or negotiate and it drove me crazy! We sat her down (when she wasn't in the middle of arguing) and let her know that when we said "No, and that's the final answer" that was her cue to stop talking. If she continued past that then she received a time-out. Then we stuck with it.
We did try to pick our battles though, because you don't want to crush your child. Sometimes we just let her be right when clearly she was wrong, just because it wouldn't make a difference. We would say "Maybe you're right about the clothes, maybe they are free, however that is not something we are going to participate in and no is the final answer."
Also know that when a child is to the point where he/she is just arguing then there's no use in "proving" that you are right. It's best to just drop the subject.
When a child asks a lot of questions, just turn the question back around. "When is E going to babysit me again?" you say "When do YOU think E will babysit you again?" You'll find that more often than not they will answer their own question. If she says "I don't know" then you can say "I don't know either."
You can also turn it into a joke. "E will babysit you again when the grass turns pink with polka dots!"
Understand that all the questions are just her attempts to communicate. You can also gently let her know that you need some quiet time. My daughter was a chatterbox and sometimes I just needed to tell her that mommy needed some quiet time, and could she find something else to do?
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J.G. answers from Chicago on May 18, 2013
They regress from the half bday leading up to the next year. Behavior has to deteriorate to leap forward in terms of development.
Just keep saying, "I'm done with this conversation," and then walk away. I also say, " what did I say last time?" And turn it around, and then I walk away.
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B.P. answers from Cleveland on May 18, 2013
With the hair brush I just would of done it again. You need to pick your battles I have a strong willed 4 yr old. Its all about picking n choosing. IMO your feeding into it big time. With the clothes I would of just said that the answer was no n that was that. No reason to of even go to the site
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A.M. answers from Kansas City on May 19, 2013
i totally understand.
my son is 6 1/2, just wrapping up kindergarten, and has adhd. he is a VERY sweet child. but due to all of the above - he constantly has to have "something" to say. he is VERY sassy. and he constantly thinks he knows better than i do. not even in a defiant way (although he does have his moments of frustration - it is VERY frustrating always knowing more than everyone else but no one ever letting you tell them this! lol) he's normally just arguing in a pleasant tone, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
honestly i am not having a huge ton of success either. but we are chipping away at it...i do put him in time out for back-talking. i have told him on more than one occasion that the answer is NO and will always be NO and harping on it won't change my answer, and if he brings it up again he will go to time out. and constantly remind him to "stop arguing". and constantly have to remind MYSELF not to engage him. it's an uphill battle. hang in there!
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