Kid Always Argues. Driving Me Nuts

Updated on February 05, 2011
S.K. asks from Castle Rock, CO
19 answers

My now 6 year old son argues and negotiates EVERYTHING. I send him to the "naughty corner" and when he comes out he starts arguing again that he wasn't arguing. I just want to yell at him to shut up but i dont want to talk to my kids like that. I telll him that he just needs to stop but he doesn't. He is very stubborn and i find myself yelling at him a lot and i don't want to do this either. I do show plenty of affection when he isn't arguing but the arguing is getting worst. I try to talk to him calmly, put him in the naughty corner but nothing is working!!!!!! How do you get your child just to stop talking/arguing when you've had enough and they dont listen.

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answers from Richmond on

Ignore the negative behavior long enough, and he'll realize you're not giving in, get bored, and move on ;) Persistance is key!! This is not a democracy, this is a momocracy, and you're mom. You're the dictator. You win :)

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answers from Harrisburg on

It takes two people to argue. If he is arguing, it means you are arguing back with him too. Just stop, ignore and do what you know is best for him. Answer the questions that really matter.

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answers from Lynchburg on

Dear S.-

My oldest (now almost 22) was exactly like that!! I often joked with my (now) ex that he was going to be a lawyer or a politician! And guess what...he graduates from college in may...and the military is putting him thru law school.

I agree with the other him that 'whatever it is' is NOT open for negotiation...and the discussion is CLOSED. Then go about your business. I often imagined in my mind my fingers in my ears going 'la la la...I can't hear you'...and that made me smile...

Hang tough...perhaps HE is in training to become a great negotiator!


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answers from Salt Lake City on

oh my I can totally relate I have two boys that will argue the color of the sky for hours if you let them.
Here is what I do I make my point quickly rationally I tell them that is is conversation over if they begin to argue again(which they will) I look them straight in the face and say " this conversation is over, I am done leave it" If they don't I just walk away ( oh yes they will follow) I don't answer I don't speak I just find something else to do, make dinner fold laundry but I don't speak at all until they have argued themselves out. My youngest would go on for hours if you even acknowledge.

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answers from New York on

I have 2 six year olds. Both love to talk. I let them talk. Once they start arguing, I find chores for them. Also, if the conversation is not going anywhere, and I can tell they're trying to talk so that an argument will start, I say mom needs 10 minutes of total silence. Get a book until I am ready to start talking again. I don't get upset with them. I am glad they talk and talk and talk and talk. But I need 10m min of no talking from time to time.
Also chores cuts down on their down time. They get 'paid' weekly. If they miss a day of not doing their chores, they do not get paid for that week. After the chore is done, they want to busy themselves with playing, not talking back. Works for all of us.

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answers from Phoenix on

I'm liking the negotiating factor in his I would not squelch that talent.

Arguing, constantly, in a whiny way, I would ignore.

My older daughter, who sounds like your son, told me recently, that she used to talk to me while I was cleaning, or cooking, or sewing, or sitting in the tub, and all I would do is nod my head and say 'HM" I was listening. She thought all those years that I was actively listening...and let me tell you, I was in my own world, just pretending to listen. I couldn't take all the non stop chatter, so I must have checked out unintentionallly at times.

And she's a lovely women now. So don't feel bad if you just nod your head and continue along with your own program.

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answers from New York on

ignore the arguing. He can only argue if you engage with it. If you don't respond he'll realize that he's not getting anywhere and will stop. My 11 yr old will do that - he's quite the negotiater, But I've learned to just stop answering his protests, questions, offers. When there's nothing to argue with he'll stop.

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answers from Denver on

Sounds as if he is modeling your behavior, he argues you argue. When the 2 of you are not arguing, are you just quiet while showing that affection. He mind is expanding, so why not answer the questions positively. And if you are busy have him try to write them down or remember them, so you can answer them later. He may just be trying to get some attention, positive or negative is still attention.

Why not offer him something to do to occupy, until you have time to answer him. Punishing because You are frustrated is not the answer, maybe having a discussion whereby you let him know that when you are busy he must too find something to do, until the 2 of you can sit down and talk, answer all his questions, etc.

At that age, kids are filled with wonderment and questions, and those questions are part of being a kid and having kids. So don't resent him because of them, be pleased and proud at his curiosity and set a time to talk about them.

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answers from St. Louis on

Oh gosh! My 6 y/o daughter is the same way! She drives me absolutely nuts! I feel like I yell at her and send her to her room all the time! As shes walking to her room shes talking back! Arrrrg!!! Looks like I need advice too!



answers from Missoula on

I find myself trying to explain what my expectations are and he argues back and we go back and forth. Then after a while I realize I am letting him continue to argue with me and that is ridiculous. I tell him my expectations and the consequences one last time and that I am done talking about it and find something to keep myself busy. If I can manage to keep my mouth shut the argument ends and he does what he is supposed to. The hard part is not responding for a few minutes while he continues to try to argue and engage me.



answers from Minneapolis on

The other day I told my 6 year old to get dressed. He was taking forever so I said "Get dressed already!" and he replied "YOU GET DRESSED!" I usually try to stay calm and he will calm down. I just send him to his room to cool off and it usually works.



answers from Denver on

I agree with the mom who mentioned positive reinforcement. We have a son who is similar and we call it "strong-willed" which in the long run is a good thing as they tend to be leaders and tend to not give in to peer pressure. Anyhow, we reward the good and it does wonders-we used to use a poker chip reward system and he could cash them in for time with family, toys etc... We also used the "Thats 1...Thats 2... thats 3.." method that I still use when my teens argue. The goal is they need to stop fighting by the time I get to the number 3 or leave the room. The other one I use from time to time which is pretty funny and it just gets them laughing-is if they are going to argue to me then they have to sing it. And the best thing is not to encourage it/give in to it which I know is sometimes really hard. Now that he is 14 we really can laugh about it but he is still stubborn and disagreeable but in a more mature way and not as often. Good luck and you will get through this!



answers from Fort Collins on

My daughter exactly! I've always wanted her to have the ability to voice her opinion, but as they get older, that leads to arguements. She would argue the color of the sky, or whether or not she was arguing. Many of the suggestions here I tried but didn't work, so keep looking for one that works for your son. If it's something unimportant, I just let it go. So what if she insists that the sky is green. I say fine - whatever you think. If it's something important, I tell her very firmly the discussion is over, and if she says anything else, she can go to her room. If I was really angry, i'd go to my room. That had more of an effect than you'd think. Sometimes I'd also take away something that was very important to her - screen time, but there had to be the immediate separation with it. If she came out of her room arguing about not arguing, she'd go back in and lose something else. I think sending her to her room worked better than the naughty corner. Even though she could play there, she was separated from me and the arguing stopped, and that was the goal. She eventually learned not to argue - or outgrew the phase. We also prayed about it together....



answers from Denver on

I tell my son "I love you too much to argue". It usually diffuses the situation as he knows I'm not engaging him any more. You might want to check out the love and logic website for other ideas.


answers from Chicago on

"If you respond to mildly annoying behavior in a strong way repeatedly, you give it power and strength. As your child gets into adolescence, he’ll start to find ways to push your buttons. When you confront him, he'll say very innocently, “What did I say? What did I do?”

I personally think that the less you challenge it, the less you give it power. Remember, the less power you give it, the more it's going to die its natural death. That process is called “extinction.” If you don't respond to a behavior and give it power, the more likely that it will become extinct; it's going to die out like the dinosaurs. But if you feed the behavior and play with it, you’ll only nurture the disrespect. In my opinion, the worst thing you can do is challenge it inconsistently: let’s say sometimes you let it slide and then sometimes you confront your child. When you do that, those behaviors tend to become more entrenched. I understand that many times it's not easy to ignore mildly disrespectful behavior."

From this article here:



answers from Pittsburgh on

He is learning to communicate and negotiate. It is really frustrating but these are skills you want him to learn. He will need them in life. I don't think you can punish him for this.

When my head is ready to explode, I tell my son that - 'I'm sorry DS, but right now mommy's head can't handle any more arguing or it will explode'. This generally works but I save it for when my head is truly ready to explode.

Another thing that helps us is thinking about the issue he is talking about, not how he is talking. Does he have a point? If so we address that and model how we would like him to present his point.

It also helps to ask him what he wants/ why he is arguing. Example - I say - DS, it's time to get dressed. He says - but mommy I can't/don't want to to now blah blah blah. I say - ok, so what do you want to do so you can be dressed in 15 minutes to go to school? He generally says something like - I need to finish building this lego ship? I say - ok, you can do that for 2 minutes. And then - argument over, 2 minutes of lego and he gets dressed.



answers from Dallas on

He's 6 and his communication skills aren't developed yet. You can guide him thru a conversation teaching him how to ask politely about what his issue may be. Ask him several questions about what he is saying and go from there...


answers from San Francisco on

My 4 year old is like that. His goal is to wear me down into saying yes and he is stubborn enough to continue as long as need be!
So I find my best defense is to repeat my decision once then tell him the conversation is over and ignore him. If he really persists I send him to his room until he is ready to move on to something else. Sometimes I have to carry him there. With time this strategy is paying off. Good Luck to you!



answers from Boston on

Oh I feel for you and for your son. I also have a 6-year-old arguer/talker, but I am that way myself. We use positive discipline in our house and for my son, his "misbehavior" is motivated by control (vs. attention or other motivators) so I usually am able to get better results by appealing to his ability to exercise self-control and by acknowledging that I can't *make* him do anything, but he can earn privileges by controlling himself and making good choices.

Once we diffuse the power struggle, we move on to reward the behavior that my husband and I want. In your example, if there is something that he resists in his routine and tries to argue his way out of (like getting ready for school or going to bed) then you tackle that specific situation. For example, walk him through was a good morning looks like (he gets dressed in appropriate clothing, eats breakfast, brushes his teeth, gets his backpack, and puts on his coat and shoes without fighting with you about what to wear, what to eat, etc.). If he meets the goal 100%, he gets 2 points. If he tries but still slips up a bit, 1 point. If he doesn't try at all, 0 points. You can also practice the routine throughout the day to give him a chance to earn extra points.

If his arguing is more generic, in that he just likes to debate with you about any and everything ("Mom what color is the sky" "It's blue honey" "No it's not, it's actually more white sometimes and dark gray and blah blah blah") then have periods throughout the day in which he has to NOT argue with you, or he can debate you but if you say "end of discussion" he has to agree to disagree and move on. It can't be all day, that wouldn't be fair, but perhaps 2 points for every hour in which he doesn't argue or sticks to the "end of discussion" rule. Then attach a privilege to the points - in our house, when we're trying to establish a new, positive behavior we give the kids chances throughout the day to earn 10 or more points, and when they have 10 points they can use the iTouch for 10 or 15 minutes.

Anyway, I hope that helps. You don't want to squelch this tendency, as it leads to great skills that can be used later on in life (negotiating, critical thinking, asserting opinions) but obviously it can be annoying when it's relentless. If what I outlined above seems appealing, I would recommend that you read "The Kadzin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child" and "Positive Discipline." Both books use a discipline method that literally turns "punishment" on it's head and it really, really works. Good luck!

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