Child That Argues

Updated on November 26, 2007
C.M. asks from Cody, WY
22 answers

I need some help!!! I have an 8 year old son that wants to turn everything into an arguement with me. It doesnt matter what the subject is he will argue with me. My husband has had enough of this and is ready to walk out the door and not come back. I dont know what to do with my son. I have tried ignoring him, talking to him calmly, different disciplines and nothing is working. I dont want to loose my husband over an 8 year old. Does anyone have any ideas that might help me? My son is in counseling and is on ADHD medication. The arguing is worse when my husband is around and my son and I get along a little better when he is gone. That isnt right though, we should be able to get along wether or not my hubby is home. Im going crazy here with not knowing what to do. Any help would be awesome.

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So What Happened?

Im sorry to all those that wrote to me. I took the Love and Logic workshop. I am loving it. Thank you to all of you that suggested this program to me. My son hates it but I guess that is to be expected. Again thank you to all of you.

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C.F.

answers from Pocatello on

I also have a 8 year old girl who is the same way you take everything they love and use every day away from them but it dont work eather i need help also on this lol is there some thing that works for this mine is rude and talks mean to every one even mom 7 dad i need help befor i go Crazy thanks C. few crazy in idaho

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C.L.

answers from Salt Lake City on

It's time for some tough love. I worked with a child that argued quite a bit and the family was a bit worse off than yours. I decided that it was so important for this child not to rule the house, that I had to be drastic.

I put him in time out every single time he did something that wasn't ok (arguing, pushing his sister, talking back, say "aaaauuunnn" in my face disrespectfully...anything that he did that made me cringe inside, he had a time out for). At first I thought it was too harsh, but he alway got a warning (unless it was hitting, and the warning was for the first time I heard the behavior and he got time out, after that, he got no more warnings and went straight to time out)....Example:

He was frustrated about something, turned to me and said, "aaaauuunnnn!"

I said, "That tone is disrespectful. If you do it again, you'll get a time out. If you want help, ask me for help (I always replaced the negative behavior with an appropriate one so that he would know what was acceptable).

"aaaaauuuunnnn!" Time out.

The first three days were REALLY hard. I made a rule that he couldn't talk in time out and every word he said gave him one more minute. He ended up sitting in time out for 22 minutes! (He kepts saying, "aaauuunnn" and I kept moving the timer up. He finally gave up and sat quietly). I also set a timer that would ding. That ding was like a party for him. He would get up and have a giant smile on his face. I would ask him to explain why he was in timeout, make him apologize to whomever he wronged, give them a hug, both would say I love you and they would resume playing.

After about a week, he ended up going from time out 6-10 times a day, to 2-4 and after two weeks, maybe only once or twice. He started using his words and being polite.

His mom thanked me immensely. He actually started asking them to use their manners. He was much happier and they all were able to enjoy each other more.

The difficult part was when his mom got home. She wouldn't discipline the same way I did (excuses: She just got home and he misses her, whenever he'd make his disrespectful sound, she wouldn't put him in timeout in his room because she didn't want his room to be a hateful place [it wasn't, he understood timeout was just a time...not a place]) She made so many excuse that he would look me right in the face when she got home and say, "aaaauuuuunnn" because he knew she wouldn't put him in timeout for it.

So my biggest piece of advice would be that both you AND your husband must sit and tell his sister and him there is a new discipline in the house. That both of you are going to be doing it, and everyone in the house is going to go along. It'll make your home a happier place for all of you. You all should sit down together and make house rules (make sure you talk about how arguing hurts families, and anything else that is disrespectful). And then BE CONSISTENT. It's hard, especially if you're tired, but it only lasts 1-2 weeks and then you'll have paradise!

Try your best and be firm and consistent. Always give him a replacement behavior (especially since he has ADHD). Don't have him sit in timeout, make it something like standing in a corner or tape up a 3x3 square aread on the floor so he can move around (he may be unable to sit still for 8 minutes).

You can tweek this a little, but not much.
Good Luck!

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J.S.

answers from Salt Lake City on

Hi C.,
I am a love and logic mom and facilitator, I don’t really recommend quick answers, so my first advise would be look into Love and Logic, the web-site, listen to funny parenting stories, you can even contact your sons school to see if love and logic is being taught or the enrichment center to see where its taught and when. The library has books and DVD’s on Love and Logic too.

In a case like this, remember anger and frustration feed mis-behavior.
I’d say Very Calmly “I love you to much to argue” over and over again until the child realizes this isn’t working. Or “I’d be happy to talk to you when your voice is as calm as mine”.
If the child is wearing you out, you can use the energy drain, that works great on my son. Me- “Oh dear” child-“What?” me-“I’m feeling and energy drain from all this arguing, I don’t have the energy to….. (cook dinner – go to the park – play games – take you to your friends – (what ever requires his wants and participation)). Or “So much of my energy has been drained and I still have to do - - - . What do you plan to do to put the energy back in me?”

You can not tell a child what to do, you can only tell him what you will or will not do, and it really works wonders, because Kids do need their parents. Example, “I’d be happy to cook dinner when your toys are picked up” or “We’ll watch our Friday night movie as soon as your Friday chores are done” or “Feel free to come watch the movie with us as soon as your chores are done” or “I’ll continue doing the things I’ve been doing when I feel respected” I use that one when my son is using anger to get his way with me. Then I grab a good book, go lock my self in my room and read for a while. Or find a babysitter and have him pay with his money, or toys. Let him decide how to pay. Not really my problem.

If child is complaining about other people, what’s suggested in Love and logic is give lots of empathy “That’s a bummer” or what ever is natural to you “That sucks” but be compassionate and not sarcastic. Let them vent, then you can ask them If you want “what do you plan to do?” and don’t get upset with insane answers, just listen. You can ask them “What do you think will happen if you do that” Get them thinking about consequences to actions they think they may want to make so you don’t have to, because when they move out, if their thinker is not working, its going to be a long hard life.

If you feel you want to give advise, ask them, because as I learned a little slogan “There is no room in heaven for unsolicited advise” So ask “Would you like to hear what other kids have tried?” wait for a yes or no. If no, move on, if yes, feel free to say “Some kids have tried ----“ and ask him “How do you think that will work” Use really crummy examples first, then move on to the better ones. If he chooses one that will cause him pain, YEA!! The road to wisdom is paved in mistakes and pain…. He will learn..

There is a lot of foundation to learn about love and logic first thought, so read up on it and see if its something that might be helpful to you.

Ok – I’d better stop, I almost gave you a 6 week class… Good luck to you. My son is ADHD and on NO meds all because of Love and Logic.

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J.U.

answers from Grand Rapids on

Hi C.,

Arguing can be frustrating, can't it?! I like to call kids who like to prolong arguments "debaters." I've got one living in my house. He used to wear me down with all the "but I just..." "if you'll just let me..." "I've got to..." It used to drive my husband and I crazy!!!

In a quest to deal with this and other troubling behaviors, I stumbled across the Love and Logic program. It has dramatically improved things at home. I loved it so much, I began facilitating the parenting course!

Love and Logic recommends using "one liners" to squelch arguing. It is like dealing with a telemarketer -- you use the same line over and over until they give up. My favorite is "I love you too much to argue with you." I said it every time our son tried to argue with me after getting an answer he didn't want to hear. I knew it was working when he said "I hate it when you say that!" He is now nine and understands that when I use my one liner, there is no use in wasting his energy trying to get his way.

I would suggest checking out the Love and Logic website: www.loveandlogic.com. You will find all sorts of articles, videos and downloadable mp3s that explain some of the techniques in more detail. Good luck to you and hang in there!

PS: Feel free to contact me if you have any questions :)

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K.S.

answers from Bismarck on

Hi C.,

I also have a son who is ADHD and loves to argue constantly. I have learned that the best way for me to handle this is to use non-verbal cues. I can't to three only using hand signals. This keeps me from falling into his trap and arguing with him. The key is to be consistent with the consequences and make sure it's something that is important to him. For my son he loves his money and his pokemon cards. So I have started giving him his allowance in the form of bonus stickers. He has a chart on the refridgerator and each week he gets five stickers as his allowance. He is expected to do his chores each day to keep these bonuses. Each one is worth fifty cents and he has the opportunity to earn more throughout the week with good behavior. He also knows that when I have to count to three then he loses a bonus (which also means he can't buy as many pokemon cards). You will have to find what works for you as far as hand signals or other non-verbal cues and as far as what he earns or loses but the concept is easy for you to be consistent and easy for him to anticipate the consequences of his actions. It's also important for you to get your husband (and teachers if necessary) on board with this. I hope this is helpful to you. Best of luck to you.

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K.B.

answers from Kalamazoo on

What a frustrating situation! It's hard enough to deal with people at work or school or someplace else who always feel a need to argue, but another thing when it's your own child. It almost sounds like he's really feeling a need to have control over something in his life, and this is the only way he's able to have some. He definitely has enough power to get you worked up and to get your husband angry.

You might want to check out this book from Hand In Hand: Nurturing the Parent-Child Connection. The book is called "Listening to Children" and you can read more about it here:

http://www.handinhandparenting.org/literature.html#Listen...

Hand In Hand has some wonderful resources, including an e-newsletter called Connecting that you can subscribe to.

I hope you're able to find some peace with this situation in the near future.

Peace,
K.

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L.A.

answers from Boise on

My heart goes out to you C.. I think your son's therapist is a great one to ask this question but what I keep thinking about is that your son and husband are in a power struggle. It seems right now your son is winning. I feel that somehow the best thing to do is express in a way your kids will understand that your relationship with their dad is before them. Don 't give up on your marriage. Maybe you and your husband need to see someone also (councelor, pastor, etc). Priorities should be God, then marriage then kids. Good Luck kathy. I will pray for your family.

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J.T.

answers from Great Falls on

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but there is a program called Love & Logic. I was a teacher for 10 years and you get a lot of argument in that arena. Anyway, our school adopted this program as a school and it worked like crazy with all ages. I taught 3rd grade and it specifically worked well, I thought, with them. They have a program aimed at teachers and another one aimed at parents. I know that they have a website too. Hopefully it is helpful. I know arguments are hard to avoid, especially with kids. Good luck and know you're not the only one in that situation!!

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J.W.

answers from Fargo on

I know that just about everyone has said it already, but the thing that saved me with my son was the Love and Logic way. Our family therapist told me about it and it really was the only thing that helped. The phrase that worked for me was, I LOVE YOU TOO MUCH TO ARGUE WITH YOU. Seriously, when I realized that it was a power struggle and not really anything to argue about, it felt so damn good to step out of it. The first few times I used it, he was so pissed, but I was almost elated. Over time we worked on other aspects of how to do it, but just that phrase was wonderful. You disengage and he can't really argue with it. You let him know that you love him but aren't willing to get into it.
Make sure you don't yell it at him...lol....it doesn't really work then.
I agree about working together with your husband. My ADHD son was about 9 when my husband and I got together and it was HARD. He was having such bad behavior problems at home and at school. I always felt like my husband was pretty brave to step in at that point. But I let him know from the very beginning that we had to always present a united front with all children in our life.
I know it can be hard. SO hard some days. Keep your chin up. I swear it does get better. They have to move out some time, right?? :-)

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J.T.

answers from Bismarck on

Hi
I have one like this too! First off your husband and you need to work together. The kid knows when he is playing you guys and will work at it. Kids like to be in controll. We made ours sit in his room when he was around 8 or 9 for a week. He was only aloud to read in there and not sleep accept at bed time. He could come out for meals and to go to the bathroom. Remember they don't need to go to the bathroom all day, they will try and pull this one. He hated it and when he did get to come out after a week, if he started all we had to do was say you need some more time in your room to think and it would stop. There is a great parenting program called love and logic. You and your husband should look into reading his books and find out if there is a workshop near you. It is great I went twice. I could give you all kinds of advice. YOu could call me ###-###-####. Hope this helps J.

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P.G.

answers from Salt Lake City on

My girl did that too when was about 10 or 11. She just thought she owned the world. One day when I was fed up with it I called the pediatrian and made an appointment for a consultation. I went in by myself (maybe you could go in with your husband too) and taked to him. I was able to "get it off my back" and dscuss it with him. He gave me some suggestions of things to do or books to read that would help. It was nice to talk to an adult.
Another thing I have done with another child is to send her to her room until she is able to talk in a positive way. Role playing is a good idea. This way you are working on a behavior without "pointing a finger at the child." What would Bobby do if... is a lot more relaxing way than putting the child on the spot. I don;t envy you at all, but I sure hope you figure it out soon. It is so taxing on the rest if the family. GOOD LUCK! P.

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J.O.

answers from Boise on

My know 15 year old daughter is the same way, always was and still is, if you say it is snowing she will tell you it is sunny, as a child it was easier to control, I too tried the ignoring with her, but that would just end up being a bigger argument, so one day when I was fed up I looked at her and said "your right you win I Lose but I am telling you know that if I am right you will be grounded from the t.v" well she did it her way and of course it failed so she lost t.v privlages, I found that by not arguing with her the situation got diffused and by letting her know ahead of time that if she did it she would have consequences. It is such a hard one to fight because they have opinions and ideas just like us but don't really understand the impact thier actions have. Just so you know my daughter know wants to be a lawyer, and her speech teacher thinks she will be great and can't wait to have her on the schools debate team.

No to the husband part, step back and look at the situation from your sons point of view, is your husband possibly provoking the situation? Not intentionally of course but is his frustration possibly aggrivating the situation, If it is maybe he needs to be less involved in the situation at least temporarely, let your son see that you are on his side, that doesn't mean excuse his behavior but he might be feeling ganged up on. If you want to talk more feel free and good luck!

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S.K.

answers from Milwaukee on

C., I can fully understand what you are going through. My son is seven (going on 17)...and has ADD...although I have spent a few years teaching him techniques and learning tools (I myself have ADD and ADHD)...I am not sure that it is the reason for his questionable behavior. I know that recently my son went through the exact same thing I would spend my nights feeling as though all I did all day with him was repeat "I am not going to aruge with you..." *sadly in saying that it was exactly what I was doing.* Looking at things I realized that I (who preaches about the 3 s of ADD (Simplicity, Structure, and Schedule).. Had strayed from all three. It is hard to allow your child to have their own opinion and make their own choices simply because you are the mom. However, I started posting a schedule of the things we did and I allowed a 35 min time slot during the evening where he was allowed to say what we did. I gave him choices....(monday we can go for a walk, play uno, or bake something and so on..) He felt a little more important and able to be a little more free. I also realized that he was having a hard time expressing exactly what he wanted to get across. Having ADD or ADHD can mean that you rarely have just one thought going through your head. When he is telling me something I give him time limits (sounds silly...but its effective...) I say KC this is important to you so I am going to give you >>min. to tell me this story....when you are finished talking I am going to take the same amount of time...You only have to say it a few times and they learn that is how a conversation should go...they talk and then you.....its very hard to break habits...but he is only 8 and although he may seem very adult sometimes he is still a little boy! Good luck and I hope that the things I said help in some way....just remember giving him his time to be important and say the things he needs to will boost his confidence and trust in you and there wont be a need to argue!

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C.L.

answers from Saginaw on

Give him choices when you can so he can feel like he has a little control too. Do you want to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt? Offer him two options both of which you can live with his choice when you can. Then when it is something big, you make the decision. If he tries to argue tell him you have been giving him choices all day and it is your turn to pick, thanks for understanding. If you give him 2 choices on something and he doesn't pick on in about 10 seconds then
make the choice for him... Would you like milk or water? If he says juice, repeat the options you gave him and if he doesn't pick on, pick one for him. If he doesn't like it or drink it then he gets nothing, but next time he will pick faster if he thinks you will pick the one he likes least.
I have had lots of luck, and no more tantrums using "love and logic" on my child. I know they also offer a version for ADD children as well. The Intermediate School Districts and RESD's usually offer these classes free to parents in their area. You could see if it's offered. Otherwise try www.loveandlogic.com for books and audio tapes.
Good luck,
C.

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J.

answers from Provo on

OK so I think that it crazy that your man wants to leave because you have an arguing young one but that is another subject over its own.
So, it is healthy to teach your children to have good healthy arguing skills. The hard part is to say that is a good argument but still NO. So I suggest keeping your cool and giving two options you can live with and follow through on. For example, he argue about watching TV and you say OK for 1 hour, you explain to him that after one hour the TV goes off and you can read, play with your cars, play in the back yard, etc. But the TV goes off. When the TV goes off in one hour and he argues with you give him two options, you may go to your room, time out, or you may play like we discussed. I know this sounds simple. The part that is hard is keeping your cool and following through. The first time is usually not hard but the umpteen time is when it gets hard but if you your consistent, keep your cool it will work. I only say this because I to had (he is 15 now) a son with similar behaviors that could present a very compelling argument and with nearly EVERYTHING. The part that was hard, he was a dam good at it.

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M.W.

answers from Milwaukee on

First of all, understand that the minute you get into an argument with a child, you've lost.
I am a strong advocate of the Parenting with Love and Logic model, which gives kids choices, but they're all choices YOU think of and present. For instance, if it's cold out and you see the child running outside without a coat, instead of saying, Put on your coat! say instead, do you want to wear your coat or carry it? That removes the need for argument, stops the child for a moment while s/he decides, and gets the coat outside with the child, where s/he will put it on if/when it's needed.
The next thought I have here is that your son is competing with his dad for your attention and for influence with you, and that's why it's worse when dad's around.
This is a very common scenario when the father is abusive or mean to the mother or when the father is neglectful to the children, but it can happen in any family as the boy grows up and needs to assert himself.
You need to find alternatives to arguing with the boy -- it's absolutely unnecessary and very counterproductive. Think through the situations or times these arguments start and be prepared for them, so you can avoid them. Your son is 8 years old -- you can simply tell him, Sorry, I'm not going to argue with you, and turn away. The minute you argue, you've lost the argument and your authority as parent.
You are the parent -- he's the kid. You're in charge -- start behaving that way.

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M.Z.

answers from Boise on

C.,

It sounds to me like you need to follow through with one plan and stick to it. Use a naughty spot when your son argues and doesn't listen. One minuter per each year old. If he gets up, put him back, and start the clock over. Do this a hundred times if you have to, but FOLLOW THROUGH. He is testing you and seeing if you will. So, out of curiosity, do you tend to take your son's side or come to his defense in front of your husband when he is disciplining him? If so, you need to stop because your son sees this and that is most likely why you do better when your husband is gone. Your son is running the show. You need to show a solid front with your husband, even in times when you disagree. You can discuss the situation later when you are alone. I hope this helps you.

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T.N.

answers from Saginaw on

WOW this sounds like my family lol I too have a 9 year old girl who likes to argue. She don't argue with me that often cause she knows i mean business. Its her stepdad that she gets too. Bad thing is that he argues back ugggggggg lol Anyways i really didn't have the suggestion to fix this problem cause i just tell my hubby and daughter its their problem and they need to fix it. I do stand behind my hubby but i try not to get in the middle of it. My respond has to do with the love and logic idea. I LOVE IT!!! When my daughter was in headstart they taught us things at our parent meetings about the love and logic. We don't use it in a normal day but i do have to say IT WORKS !!! I have used it in other situations. I never thought to use it in this situation. GOOD LUCK and stand ur battle ground.

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K.S.

answers from Milwaukee on

Hi C.,

I am a mom, former teacher, and current school counselor. I would seriously recommend Love and Logic techniques for the problem you are having with your son. The trickiest but most important part is that you and your husband stay calm. One thing to say is, "I love you too much to argue," when he tries to argue. Don't engage in any dialogue at all. Another tehcnique is the "It really drains my energy" technique. You can find that one under the articles in www.loveandlogic.com. Another L and L idea is to say, "I will be happy to talk with you when your voice is as calm as mine." I do not work for this company, but I have become a huge fan. We are using the program in our parenting classes and parents are giving us the greatest feedback. Good luck. This can get better!

K.

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S.S.

answers from Madison on

The best way to keep him from arguing is not to argue with him. You cannot reason with an 8 year old and you cannot convince him with an argument. You need to find a way to side-step arguing all together. The 1,2,3 Magic technique works wonders with this situation so if you can find the book or video in your library, check it out. Basically, when you find yourself getting hooked into an argument, start counting. Once you reach 3, he gets a consequence. You don't need to give him reasons why you are counting, because isn't that just another argument? He doesn't have to like it, agree with it or even understand it for him to get the message that arguing will not be tolerated. Stick with it and be consistent and the arguing will stop eventually.

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D.M.

answers from Saginaw on

I am a mother of a one year old. However, I helped raise my neice who is also ADHD and I know all to well what your going through right now. Men do not seem to be as understanding with this illness as the mothers of these children so unfortunatley it sounds like you need to work on the hubby more then the child. I hate argueing with any one let alone if they have adhd. Your husband needs to understand it is an illness not just a disipline problem. granted they need extra disipline, but they also need you to be the adult and know when enough is enough if you don't argue back he has nothing to argue with and he should eventually get tired of trying to prove a point. And, yes this doesn't always work, so I would also try distraction techniques these seem to work best. Also, one key with a child with this illness, they will feed off of your energy, if you are stressed they tend to turn into a short fused bomb. Hope any of this is helpful please feel free to email me any time. I know how bad it can get and I'm sorry....
[email protected]____.com

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J.G.

answers from Milwaukee on

Hi C.,

I am assuming your in a blended family. I also have a son that is on ADHD medication and had other behavior problems. He could be under medicated or may need to be switched. I would also try getting into some family conseling. It seems that if your husband is willing to walk out of a marriage and a family that your husband needs some conseling also. Sometime they can help with different parenting techniques. I raised my stepson since he was 8 years old and now is 15. It is very hard, we have gone through much counseling and it does help, but the family has to work at it.
Your husband threating to walk out probably does not help the situation. Taking the time as a family to get some counseling will help but it will take some work. Good luck

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