Children Who Argue Tend To Thrive As AdultsWavebreakmedia Ltd / iStock / thinkstock
Kids who 'talk back' often make the lives of their parents quite miserable.
When your child begins arguing with you or grumbling, then it obviously makes you see red. Trying to stay composed in such a situation feels extremely difficult even though your inner voice is telling you that remaining calm is the best thing you can do for all parties involved.
But what if - (indulge us for a second here) - your kids arguing is actually a good sign which fosters their development?
Psychologists believe that such behaviour in children can actually have a positive influence on their development. Clinical psychologist Kelly Kelly M. Flanagan explains that "the inability to say "No" - the inability to set personal boundaries - is one of the most common, insidious causes of human suffering."
Dr. Joseph P. Allen of the Virginia Adolescent Research Group at the University of Virginia says: "We tell parents to think of those arguments not as a nuisance but as a critical training ground." Dr. Allen has closely researched the theme of Adolescent & Child Development and has published his findings.
Kids that argue or talk back are defying your authority as a parent because they are testing the boundaries and in a way trying to reassert some control on their own lives. You can look at it from another perspective - your kids are practising their negotiation skills - with you.
This is good sign because it goes to show that your child is learning to negotiate rather than blindly following anything he/she is being told to do. It goes to show that your child is developing a skill that will come is handy when trying to resist say a pushy peer who is pressuring your child to do something that the majority is doing.
Pay Attention To HOW They Are Talking Back
We ALL want our kids to learn to stand up to bullies and be able to make smart decisions when faced with difficult situations in life. We can't always be with them which is why they need to learn to deal with dangers and peer pressure on their own.
This is where you as a parent need to nudge your child in the right direction. You are his mentor and you need to pave the path for your child so he/she can learn to be independent and be a savvy negotiator. These skills are vital because they will come in handy when your kids are confronted with drugs or sexual experimentation at an early age. Equipped with these skills they will learn when to say "No".
So the next time your kid is talking back to you, remind yourself that you are the adult in the situation! And you need to act like one! Your kid will test the limits and push boundaries but the deciding factor that weighs on the situation is HOW you respond to the situation when they are pushing back.
Is your child being respectful towards you when challenging you? Are you trying best to ensure that you are setting the right example by fostering the communication? Are you helping them understand the implications of their actions? Are your children learning to take responsibility for their behaviour and decisions?
You will be doing your children an immense favour when you teach them to learn to take control of their decisions. And while they are learning that you can also teach them to make decisions calmly, respectfully and gracefully.
Who's In Charge, Anyway?
A toddler yelling "NO!,", or teenagers questioning our authority as a parent when they pose questions like "Why should I do it?" or "That is so unfair" makes us feel insecure and we start doubting our ability to be good parents.
Maintaining authority is crucial to parents because we feel that if we don't our child will probably slip out of our hands and we will lose all control over them. It is also because this way we are trying to reinforce the patterns WE grew up with ("My parents would have never let me talk back like that!"). Things would be so much easier if our kids did what they were told but the reality is quite different and it shows that parents don't and can't have complete control over their children.
For many of us this is an ongoing battle and a few fail to realise the message.
Listen And Try To REALLY Understand What Your Child Is Trying To Say
Our children are independent individuals who are developing their personalities as they are grow. We as parents always want to protect them and pave a path for them. But we need to realize that our kids have to chalk out their own path. Our job is to be there for them when they ask for guidance or lend an ear when they want to talk about their ideas and thoughts.
Our children will be adults one day and then they will have to make decisions about things big and small on a daily basis. They will lead their own lives and for this they need to be equipped with a healthy dose of self-confidence which also partially comes from having good negotiation skills.
You want your teenage son to mow the lawn on Saturdays, but he would rather do it on a Friday. Don't freak out over it. Let your son learn to prioritize his life and by understanding why he would like to mow the lawn on a Friday you will open a two-way communication process. This negotiating and communicating experience will help your son through university, his job and his own family and kids in the future.
Remind Yourself...Your Children Will Step Into Your Shoes One Day!
A lot of parents have trouble coping up when children start getting independent. This is also because they are getting less dependent on us! At this point we need to remind ourselves that they are growing into adults.
Do yourself a favour and don't give your kids ultimatums or commands because you are helping them. They need to learn to use their own skills instead of just being told what to do. Ask them if they are ok with the plan that you have chalked out for them?
Instead of getting into a heated battle just try "How would you like to organise your chores?". Don't nag your children when they fail to do their chores. Ask them "What time would you like to do the chore?".
Be supportive and understanding and above all be patient! It takes a while for the process to sink in for all parties involved. Remember that parenting is all about helping your child be an independent adult in the future.