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Arguing Disrespectfully with Parents

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This is a selection from the book Raising Children Who Think For Themselves by Dr. Eisa Medhus. From the chapter titled Specific Child Rearing Challenges - How to Handle Them to Encourage Self-Direction, the following introduction is offered.

"The best way to make children good is to make them happy." - Oscar Wilde

Here are some inner-directed suggestions that will help with some of the most trying child-rearing difficulties we may stumble upon. All of these approaches are designed to preserve your children's ability to rely on internal dialogue instead of external influences to assess and correct their behavior. Using this section as a ready reference will help you raise a self-directed child, even if it means carrying the book, tattered and tear-stained, to the market, in the car, or at home. There are some challenges that, I hope you will never have to face, but others will be as inevitable as a pimple on prom night.

To get to self-direction, there are a few universal caveats that apply to the described behavior. First, our children need to understand and agree with both the need for the rule and the consequence for breaking it. Only when they come to agree with our rules, through their own internal dialogue, will they become self-directed. Second, look to your own parenting strategy as the possible source of some of the problem. Are you over-controlling or over-protective? Either trait can elicit an externally directed response, as your children react to an unhealthy situation. Third, remember for all these parenting challenges how important it is for you as parents, to model the right behavior. If you're expecting your children to act one way and you act another, the double standard will throw a monkey wrench into their whole internal dialogue machinery.

And lastly, don't forget to laugh.

Arguing Disrespectfully with Parents

Why They Do It
Arguing inappropriately is often a way for children to test their limits or let off steam. Some feel over-controlled and argue to rebel. Most are still inexperienced in finding respectful ways to settle a conflict.

Logical Consequences
When your children argue disrespectfully with you, ask them to leave the room. You don't need to be subjected to any unnecessary rudeness.

Solutions Toward Self-Direction
Give choices or observations: "Brandon, it looks like you're angry at me for telling you to clean up your room. How do you think I should have handled it instead?" "It makes me feel angry and frustrated when you talk to me that way." "Tom, you can either tell me why you're so angry in a respectful way, or you can leave the room and try again when you've had a chance to cool off."
Use questioning: "What are our rules about arguing disrespectfully?" "Why do you think we have that rule?" "How can you get your point across without breaking that rule?" "What do you need to do to make amends?"
Use humor to defuse the tension: Place a sign on your forehead that reads "Kick me. If it's good enough for our little Johnny, it's good enough for you."
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