Free Newsletters About Parenting!

Enter your Email

Arguing Children All The Time

The Australian journalist George Negus once interviewed the then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and suggested to her that some people didn't like her policies. Mrs. Thatcher looked affronted, and responded by asking him to name those people. That is why she is such a wonderful mascot for these children.

Arguing Children All The Time

If you ask one of these children to tidy their bedroom, they will look at you in an affronted, flabbergasted sort of way and then ask, "Why me?"

The Debaters of this world, be they male or female, are the economic rationalists of the emotional world. They will hold you to account.
Characteristics and behaviors 

The Debaters' theme song should be, "What about me?" Common statements you will hear from these kids include: 
  • "You never let me do that when I was his age." 
  • "But she got ..."
  • "It's not my turn."
  • "Her present was bigger." 
  • "It's not fair." 
  • "I did it last time." 
  • "I didn't get as large a piece of cake." 
  • "I didn't get as much time on .... " 
These kids watch out so keenly for the fairness and balance of rights and wrongs, you feel like you have a Human Rights Commissioner living in your home. They seem destined for success in fields of law, equity, and justice. They are very determined and very verbal children who can use language well - a deadly combination!

Why they need help
Debaters are remarkable children and adults. Energetic to the point of being driven, they won't let up on you for a moment. While they have incredible strengths, they need to learn a variety of ways of interacting in the world.

Unfortunately, these kids are often not tuned in to their own emotions. They are aware of resentment and a lack of fairness, but that disguises insecurity about whether they are good enough and lovable enough. Unless we help them to feel secure and to broaden their ways of dealing with people, they are on their way to having a chip on their shoulder, which they will deal with by controlling others.

Common adult responses to misbehavior 

Usually parents try to reason with Debaters and explain at length why it is fair and why the Debater shouldn't feel aggrieved. No one wants to be seen as unfair. But almost always this is a complete waste of time. Every parent of a Debater will do this from time to time, though, as a matter of form.

When your reasonable explanations of fairness fail to win the day, parents often experience exasperation and frustration. This often leads to parents reducing the amount of time they spend with the kids in the hope this will reduce the amount of conflict, or else using more words to try to justify their actions. The parent's and the child's behavior thus starts to mirror one another - neither feels understood, and an uneasy cold war breaks out.

Common responses when told to stop misbehaving
Have you ever watched politicians debating? Have you ever heard a politician from one side say to the opposing party, "Yes, I can see you're right. You have convinced me"? I thought not.
These kids won't be convinced either. The word that comes to mind is "indignant." To find out more, you can check out Arguing Children All The Time.