28 answers

8 Year Old Daughter Argues with Everything I Say.

My eight year old daughter constantly argues with me, no matter what we are talking about. I know at her age it is normal to question some things in life your parents tell you, but I think she does it to upset me and after constantly hearing it all day she does push my buttons and as hard as I try not to get upset, I do. I am not really sure how to handle it and know that she struggles in life between divided households and as much as I do not want to give her slack for her struggles, I know sometimes I do. I love my daughter so much and she has started counseling this year for a nasty divorce that took place 5 years ago that she is still struggling with. I need advice on a better way to talk with my daughter and get her to learn to respect me more and not always argue with me about everything! :)

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I have an 8 year old daughter who is exactly the same way. She will argue till the moon is blue, and if you tell her its black she will say its white.

We have started taking away privelages. She loves her game boy and her cd walkman and her cd player. These have all been taken from her because of her arguing. IT has helped, also she has lost being able to use the phone to call friends, and have friends come over for the night. Basically we took everything and she has had to earn it back. It is helping, its slow going, but there have been improvements.

The center for nonviolent communication has some interesting information about changing how we communicate
Good luck!

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I took a parenting course that advised saying the following when your child tries to argue with you: "I love you too much to argue with you."
"Arguing" takes two people. YOU can refuse to argue and then she will have no motivation to try to get you to argue.
Don't let your guilt over the divorce keep you from being a firm Momma who expects her instructions to be obeyed without arguing -- after all, I'm sure your instructions are reasonable and for the good of the whole family. So, for example, you say: "I'd like you to unload the dishwasher please." She says, "BUT ..." (fill in favorite protest) "that's not fair!" "I'm too tired!" "I hate that job!" "You're so mean!" ... You point to the dishwasher and say, calmly, pleasantly, "I love you too much to argue with you." And that's IT! Don't be drawn in! She's an intelligent girl and knows what you want -- you don't have to repeat yourself. If she refuses, then she has DISOBEYED you and it is time to institute CONSEQUENCES. I don't know what the consequences in your family are, but don't backtrack into why she OUGHT to do as you ask (which only invites an argument), move forward by saying, "Sweetheart, I asked you to unload the dishwasher. You did not cooperate. Therefore ..." whatever your consequences are. If you want a cooperative daughter, you need to hold her accountable when she is NOT cooperative. If you let her get away with such behaviors as arguing, naturally she will continue to do them.
Even if you are not arguing about an instruction but just an opinion, like "The Mariners are the best baseball team," that phrase I mentioned at the top is still helpful. Good luck; I really hope you succeed.

3 moms found this helpful

I went through something similar with my daughter - 11 through 14 years at the time. (She has always been "fiercly independent" and started arguing at the age of 7) She is now 17 and although she still pushes my buttons when she's feeling upset about something, I've learned not to react. My daughter's councelor helped me understand that I am the safe parent; i.e. I love her no matter what her behavior and she feels comfortable acting out. She also taught me to RESPOND instead of REACT, which was a really hard lesson to learn. Instead of blowing up when I was angry, I needed to state my wishes/orders clearly and calmly (even when she was yelling and fuming!) and then either hang up, if we were on the phone, or walk away. While I was learning to do that, she was learning to communicate her anger (due to a combination of divorce and death of her grandfather) verbally. I would not go so far as to say things are a field of roses...Maybe they are and I just run into a lot of thorns...but we do get on much better. Keep up the counceling and feel free to talk to her counselor about your fights as well. It may feel like it's not working, but in the long run (3 years for us) it will pay off.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm not certain what you're arguing about, but my 12-yr-old was contentous -- with ME -- since she was in elementary. I'm not talking about arguing about doing chores, I'm talking about contrariness. If I said the sky was blue, she'd counter that it was actually purple. If I told her not to kick her feet under the table, she'd say "Im not" when she certainly was.
She would often deny things I saw/heard on my own...or argue about things she had no ground to argue (whether or not I had ever seen anyone perform rap--like you could live in the US without seeing a rapper on TV)...
It's a bad personality trait of hers that stems directly from my dad (my sister got it too). They like to argue--especially if it deflects the conversation from other things.
Our counselor suggested we find a way to difuse it. Just ignoring her, or trying to reason with her did not work. She's a pitbull when it came to arguing. We decided on a silly keyword when things start to escalate. Our's is "pickle" so when she starts I just go "Really, well pickle, pickle, pickle." We both start laughing and the argument is over.
This may not apply to your situation, but I would suggest spending some time with a counselor. We only needed a few sessions to get us over this hump.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi H.,
Your daughter had gotten in the habit of pushing your buttons for a response and attention. If you tell her something or ask her to do something insist that there will be no debate. Turn off. I know this sounds harsh, but if she is truly ragging on you, it is a good way to teach here that the Mommy listening devise is unavailable. It is going to be difficult for you at first, but, please give it a go. Your daughter is going to begin doing this same thing at school, with friends and with others in her world and everyone will simply become annoyed with her and leave her alone. I have met many adults who believe a bit of hardship in their lives gives them the right to torture others. This is not ok. You need to sit your daughter down and explain the new rules and follow through.
Good Luck,
J. S

1 mom found this helpful

It is normal for girls this age to start this attitude, but if you don't get it under control now, you will have a nasty teenager.

When she speaks to you like that, just calmly interrupt her and say “I will not talk with you this way. When you are ready to be respectful, I will listen.” Then walk away. She wants to be confrontational because it makes her feel powerful. When she does talk to you respectfully, listen and treat her with respect as well. Try some one-on-one bonding with her and let her know that it hurts your feelings when she speaks to you like that. You love her so much, but when she back talks all the time, it doesn’t feel like she loves you back. Be totally honest with her about what kind of relationship you would like to have with her and discuss together how to get there. Listen to her complaints about how you treat her and agree that you both will work on it. How you feel when she acts like this has not even crossed her mind. She is probably feeling lonely and sad and just needs some attention. My daughter is much younger, but when she starts back talking or arguing, it sometimes helps to just give her a big snuggle and say “I am sorry that you are not having a good day. Do you need a hug?” Being that she is still a pre-teen, this may work with her as well. I really think she is just begging for some attention.

The center for nonviolent communication has some interesting information about changing how we communicate
Good luck!

I have a seven year old daughter, who can also be quite argumentative. I have found, and fell in love with, Love and Logic. There are books, books on CD, and DVD's. I have learned so very much from the different CD's I have purchased. My favorite strategy right now, that may work just as well for you, is "I love you too much to argue." I just keep saying it over and over again. It never seems to fail. She gets fed up and quits arguing! I also have a five year old, who is a lot less challenging, that I have used some of the strategies with. I highly recommend Love and Logic. The website is loveandlogic.com. Best of luck!

Hi H.,
I too have an 8yr old and a divided household. I noticed that my daughter started talking back and saying hurtful things to me when her father and I separated. It's very hard to not take some of the things she says to heart. I found myself crying and blaming myself for her behavior.
Remember that she loves you no matter what hurtful things she does or says. She will say things about you to get a reaction and will often pin you against your ex. What I found helpful with my daughter is telling her that when she says things like that, it hurts my feelings, and I try really hard to give her everything she wants, but often can't.

Just remember that she needs some alone time, and time with just you and her. If you can, have your family members watch your other daughter while you too do something together. It shows her that you care, and it gives you a chance to talk to her and get to know more about what she is feeling and thinking. At this age, they are going through so many changes and she probably has many questions for you.

Good luck and I hope everything goes well for you and your family.

I picked up a book in a doctor's office titled something to the effect of listening so your child will talk and talking so your child can listen. If the arguments are founded from your giving advise, or suggesting that she gets something done, or the like, the basic principles are to:

1. Make the problem their own, and to then come up with their own solution. You don't want to clean up your room now? Oh, when will you get it done then?

2. Always validate their feelings, even if you don't agree with them: I can see your frustrated. I hate being frustrated. What is it your frustrated about.

It rarely works at this age to try to get them to stand in your shoes. Some people never get that. Sigh.

I wish you all the best,

I loved your post. Thank you. My son will be 9 in June but we have argued through this whole last year! Everything I say my son responds "Actually mom it isnt...."
I get so when I hear him say "Actually" i want to scream. I would get worried that if i let my son win the arguement, or think something was one way when it really wasnt, was doing him a disservice.
Now I usually just let him think that he is right, and we get a long a lot better now.

Hi H., if you find out anything on this subject i would love to hear back from you. i also have an 8 year old son and a 7 year old daughter. i am also single. divorced a year ago and it was ugly. your story is so much like mine i thought i wrote it. my son loves to argue and its transfering over to his sister. we get into some huge battles at night. i'm at my wits end. when i finaly get him to calm down he does say hes sorry but he just doesnt know how to control his emotions. M. from issaquah

She does need to be showing you respect. John Rosemond is a family psychologist with several excellent books. I would recommend "John Rosemond's Six Point Plan for Raising Happy Healthy Children". In it he says the four magic words to use are "Because I said so". That is really all that matters, and she needs to learn that. "Raising A Nonviolent Child" is also excellent, and is not just for violent children. He talks about giving kids meaningful chores (instead of being their slaves - why would they respect slaves?), not over praising them (which gives them unfounded egos) and not having them in too many activities, because then there's not enough family time and life is too much focused on them. He has a website and weekly newspaper column as well, at www.rosemond.com. Good luck!

Oh Lord, H.. I feel your pain. I have an 8 yr old daughter, too. So does my best friend and we go through the same thing. I am constantly reminding her to be a first time listener, and telling her that somethings are not up for debate. I will be watching your thread for the advice that you receive. ((Hugs))~ S.

Hello from Bethel, Alaska! I have 3 grown adult kids, girls are always have ups and downs and I have suggestions, listen to her, close your mouth and listen see what she has to say, let her take things out to you, you listen, don't say anything just listen to her, why she wants you to listen what she has to say. When she is in good mood, tell her you love her and hug her and dicipline her what is right and wrong. Do that every time and it works! When I say something back when she is taking out things to you we used to argue and get upset, you need to stop and start listening what she has to say. Listening is very important to every parents and keep loving them even it hurts you down in your heart. Other than that there is a saying, duck tape your mouth and open your ears and listen. Keep loving and showing love to kids are so important! If you argue with her you will drive her away. Keep on loving and show love. Best regards, L. Kuhns

My DD is 8 also. My friend sent me this tidbit...

The Eight-Year Old At Home

Building Character

The eight-year old has much to learn about character this year. He can be rude, obnoxious, critical, and impatient. He thinks that he knows more than he really does, and comes off as a know-it-all. He likes to argue and is critical of others. He tends to blow up at his mother, friends, and especially siblings.

At eight, the child is beginning to develop a subjective psychological conception of the self. She is just beginning to be aware of a separate inner experience and outward appearance. It is also the age when social comparison becomes a basis of self-evaluation.

This is a big step in her psychological development, and so it makes sense that eight doesn't always handle this awareness of self and others well. She often feels inadequate and unhappy.

She will blame someone else when something goes wrong. If she is criticized, she may burst into tears or take an attitude of who cares. It's as if she cannot tolerate being wrong or guilty, so she will go to any lengths to deny or explain away her guilt.

On the positive side, the eight-year old has great courage and is very concerned with right and wrong. Eight needs his parents to guide him this year, to talk about what is right and wrong as he takes big steps to assert himself in the world around him. He is hungry for this type of guidance at home, school, church, and the community.

When faced with the above, take a deep breath and while counting to 10 remember we are here for you. :o)

First, I'd like to mention that it isn't possible to argue with someone, unless they argue back. So either you are arguing with your daughter, or she "disagrees" with "everything" you say. That may seem like an unworthy distinction, but when you're reacting to her, it might be something that will help you. When we think (and say) "You argue with everything I say," that often is a fabrication that we have heard so often that we have forgotten how incorrect it is. Far closer to the truth is, "You disagree with me a lot, don't you?" She can't argue with you, unless you argue with HER.

If you think of it as "disagreeing" with you, then you might find yourself reacting differently. Perhaps you'll find yourself saying something like, "Well, let's think that through. Perhaps you're right." But no. Generally we mamas instead just want to say what we want done, and to not have to discuss it. So we don't let our kids learn to healthily express their own opinions.

Perhaps it will help if you talk to your daughter about it by placing some blame on yourself for it, and asking her if you can try letting her disagree just three or four times a day. Then if she disagrees again, that day, tell her that if it is an important point that she's making, and she feels very strongly about it, she can think about it and tell you tomorrow. It shouldn't then count as one of tomorrow's alotted disagreements. Instead, tomorrow it should be a time for listening to her thoughts and showing her that her opinion matters to you always, but that disagreeing shouldn't just be a habit. It should be something we can explain with confidence.

My oldest grandson used to argue with his father constantly. And it made me very sad to watch, because his father held the attitude that if Andrew questioned him, he wasn't treating him with respect. It was very hard for us to teach Andrew to have self-confidence, given that his dad had always shot down all of Andrew's thoughts. It becomes a habit for us, as parents, to think that because we've said something should be done, in our rush through our days, it is pesky to have someone pull us up short with a snap disagreement. But it is important sometimes to start looking at the child and help them to learn to disagree appropriately. So we may have to learn to not always think of their disagreements negatively, even when they do add to the length of our day.

Good luck!

I raised 3 girls, I know where you're coming from. One thing I learned, is that they can't argue with me unless I argue back. If they said the sky was purple, I'd say, "yep, that's a really pretty shade". After awhile of that, they realized they couldn't push my buttons anymore.

When it came to things like cleaning their rooms, I'd ask them if they wanted to clean their room before or after dinner. Not tell them to clean it. I had to change my way of dealing with them.

Right now, my son is 25, my daughters are 21, 19 and 17, and I have a wonderful relationship with all of them. The oldest three are in school, and my youngest is still at home. It's just the two of us, I'm disabled, and we help each other. I never thought this ornery, mouthy kid would ever become the sweet understanding young woman she is today.

you said you were divorced and she's seeking counseling? Do you get any feedback from her that the dad is saying negative things about you to her?
Often times with a split family, you'll find a child may feel defensive of one parent because of things that parent might be telling them about you...which empowers them to come and argue with the other parent. It doesn't really matter what they are arguing about. If she's hearing anything negative about you while feeling pity for him...than she's feeding on it and it makes her feel equal to the other parent who is badmouthing you...giving her empowement to do the same.
One trick that I use and it works very well is so simple and I can't believe it took me so long to figure it out. I have a 13 year old daughter...one of 4. She WAS the most stubborn and argumentative child I had ever met. Before I knew it she could suck me into an argument that escalated to a fight before I knew it. It was getting so bad that I didn't even want to have a conversation with her. finally, I just quit arguing with her. It's that simple.
do not get sucked into it...tell her what you said is final, you don't want to talk about it anymore and if she continues she will go into her room and not come out until you say. If that doesn't work start taking away priviledges one at a time until you start getting cooperation.

Now, when I tell my daughter this is the end of the conversation..she'll try occasionally but not like she used to and if she does, she goes to her room. I tell her she can come out when she's done being mouthy and when she's done feeling like she wants to argue...and she stays in there until she gets over whatever ticked her off. After a half hour or so, she comes out, hugs me, apologizes and is fine the rest of the day.
It allows you control of the situation without having to lose your temper...the trick is just don't get sucked into it. That's what she wants, if you take it away, eventually she'll quit and most important it prevents both of you from saying something you'll regret later. If she's only 8, she's going to have this mastered by the time she's a teen if you don't master her first.
that doesnt mean there isnt room for negotiation it just means when you have made up your mind there is no more room for argument.

I have been there so I can feel you pain.
What I have learned though, is that it takes two to argue.
First pick your battles. When my youngest was little she would insist on dressing inappropriately for the weather. We would battle until I was tired , then I finally realized that it was not worth it- If she refused to listen to me regarding her clothing choices then she would suffer the natural consequences of being too hot or cold- it did not take long after that for her to comply with my suggestions about her dress. Look for ways for her to have to deal with the natural consequences of innappropriate behavior and make it inconvenient and harder for her to argue and disobey than it is for you. Let her know that when you say something it is nonnegotiable and if she responds back in a negative way, rather than responding to her with words, let their be an immediate and clear consequence. Be consistent with that consequence and do not get trapped in the battle of words with her because she will see you as her equal rather than her authority.
Where you can give her limited choices so she can feel she has a choice and learn to walk in that responsibility but other than that do not give her room to argue with her.

Family meetings have been a Godsend for my family. When something comes up that my daughter disagrees with I will tell her- we will not argue about it right now- this is the way it is going to be- but I will write down your complaint in the family meeting book and at family meeting time you will be free to talk about your feelings, why you feel this is unfair, what oyu are upset about.
In this setting they are free (within reason) to express their anger , frustration, concerns without fear of consequence - there are ground rules in the family meeting though, anger is to be expressed constructively- no violence, name calling, etc. She feels free to express herself, she knows you are hearing her and that you will take into consideration what she says and you can discuss why there will not be a change to the way things are or how oyu can come to a compromise or how things can change to accomodate her needs that are not getting met. As parents, we know we are not perfect but sometimes it is hard to see where we need to change. While we need to keep the boundaries of authority clear and not give in or lower ourselves- sometimes we do need to listen and we might discover something about ourselves. We need to allow them to rant constructively then we can see to fixing the situation. There will be times where she is still wrong but she will have had the opportunity to vent and hear from you why things need to be a certain way- she will be more willing to listen, there will be times when you are wrong and will be able to see clearly where she is coming from without the fight, then you can humble yourself to her and talk together about how things can change and there are times when no one is wrong, there just might be a better more compromising way to handle things.
Make the family meeting a weekly thing- the first meeting talk about what you are doing and why and let the girls help set down ground rules- use this time to sompliment and show appreciation for good things that have happened over the week, always try to end the meeting on a positive note.

I have an 8 year old daughter who is exactly the same way. She will argue till the moon is blue, and if you tell her its black she will say its white.

We have started taking away privelages. She loves her game boy and her cd walkman and her cd player. These have all been taken from her because of her arguing. IT has helped, also she has lost being able to use the phone to call friends, and have friends come over for the night. Basically we took everything and she has had to earn it back. It is helping, its slow going, but there have been improvements.

Go to your library and request the book or video tape called Discipline with Love & Logic by Drs. Cline & Fay. They have a web site www.loveandlogic.com
WONDERFUL! They have classes & seminars around the country with trained professionals leading them. I'm on the Love & Logic for Teens, now. It REALLY works- helps them make better choices, too.

I highly recommend taking the "Love and Logic" Class. It is great! Cindy Horst is a great instructor who offers the class. Here is her e-mail. ____@____.com theory in the class is that you never argue with your kids. When they try to argue with you, you become a broken record and keep repeating two phrases in a very empathetic way. They are, "probably so" and "I know." You can order the book from the library or Amazon "Love and Logic" by Jim Fay and Foster Cline if you don't have a class near you. The class is very helpful though. Best of luck with the arguing.

Remember Aretha Franklin? RESPECT. You might try to have a discussion with your daughter about what she wants in the way of respect from you and what you want in the way of respect from her. You are the parent and you set the standard. When she begins to be disrespectful, calmly explain that you understand her frustration but you will not tolerate her disrespect. Send her to a "time out" space.
I have a friend whose daughter was very cruel with her mouth, especially to her mom. She would mock her mother and scream in her face. Her mom was frustrated and at her wits' end. One day, in the midst of a particularly nasty argument, he calmly got up, went into her room, took one of her Bratz and threw it in the trash. She went into hysterical crying and screaming, but when she calmed down he explained that her attitude was unacceptable and that he would continue to dispose of her Bratz when she was cruel and disrespectful. I can assure you that she thinks seriously before she backtalks these days. This may seem harsh, but this girl is 9. She has not even begun the "puberty years." Imagine what she will be like when she is 15 if she doesn't learn to respect her parents. Remember, by learning to respect you, she is learning to respect herself.

very helpful answers have been provided here. Must thank http://www.google.com for pointing me in the right direction. This is a godsend.

Hi H., What I learned, when my girls were grown, was that everything I had said was being undermined by their father, deliberate or not, they argued with me about everything, and there were 2 of them 17 months apart!! I would just sit her down and ask her, a few things I guess. In a 2 house system, so many things go on behind closed doors, she may always be argued with. Or she has found the only place in her current situation that she has any control, in her mind she is living 2 lives, loving 2 parents, and hating them both. Does he have trouble with her as well, or is he just trouble. She has a good reason, (for an 8 year old) for her behavior. It is important that you let her know in no uncertain terms, that you are the mother, and if you say the dog is purple with pink polka dots, that is that! Saying these things to them has a double effect, you make your point, and make them laugh! Minimize her out of the house activities when she behaves in that manner, and let her know you will not be talked to like that in public, there for she goes no where! Sounds like councilling is way over due, it is very important that you support her in this, and never question her about it, if she wants to talk, she will. We as adults, see the kids pain as collateral damage, but to them, the sky is falling! Hope this is helpful! R.

Hi H.
try to hsve her take a time out in her room so she can cool down as well as you. Then have her sit down with you and talk about is really bothering her. Also using one liners with her such as for example I love you to much to argue.I am sorry you feel that way lets talk about it. I'm sure you can figure it out.

My daughter and I were on that track for awhile too when she was younger. The thing that helped me was learning how to communicate better. I listened to the "light his fire" tapes by Ellen Kreidman (she has books too). They helped me understand how to say things to both my ex and my daughter so they would "hear me" and respond better, as well as helping me "hear them" and respond better. I remember one instance when my daughter popped off at me about how lame I was that I did something one way. After listening to the tapes, I just turned it all around on her asking her (in a positive tone) where she learned that information and what was her perspective on it. I know it won't work for everything you're going through, but maybe she's just wanting to validate that she has a place and an opinion about what her world looks like and through you is the only way to accomplish that. My heart goes out to you!

children should not argue with their parents. it is disrespectful. period. it is like us arguing with a police officer. my daughter tries to argue with me sometimes (she is 8 also). i refuse to argue with her. i will talk about it, to help her understand. when you start to argue stop it right them. explain to her that you are not going to argue with her.

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