Is Arguing a Good Quality?

Children who argue have good character qualities like persistence, perseverance, determination, creativity, and an ability to communicate their ideas. The problem with arguing is that your child views you as an obstacle, a mountain to tunnel through. The child who argues often lacks sensitivity, humility, and a proper respect for authority. Your challenge as a parent is to encourage the positive qualities and remove the negative ones.

When you sense that your child has crossed the line and is valuing the issue at the expense of the relationship, stop the dialogue. Refuse to argue. It takes two to argue, but only one to stop. You can stop the process from continuing on into unhelpful territory. Remember that good logic isn’t the only consideration. You’re also teaching your child to value relationship and learn to communicate with honor.

One approach: Obey first, then we’ll talk

Some parents who see a need for their children to give, not just take, require obedience by saying, “Because I’m the parent, that’s why.” Although these parents may have a handle on the problem, their authoritarian approach is inadequate because it focuses the solution on the parent instead of the child. Instead, challenge children that the problem is theirs because they’re mishandling dialogue. A child may need a period of time where following instructions comes before the discussion to foster the ability to give up one’s agenda without always having to get something out of it.

When Amanda is asked to get on her pajamas and responds with, “But I’m not tired,” Mom may say, “Amanda, I’d like you to obey first and then we’ll talk about it.” After Amanda obeys, then a discussion about bedtime may take place. It’s surprising, though, how many children don’t feel the need for a discussion afterwards. Dialogue for them was simply an attempt to delay cooperation.

Sometimes an argument can move into a helpful discussion with a little adjusting on your part. If you believe a discussion is helpful in a given situation you might move away from an argument mode by asking, “What are you hearing me say?” or saying, “Let’s both try to think of advantages and disadvantages of you watching a video tonight.” With these kinds of statements, you refuse to become an opponent and continue to look for areas of cooperation. The discussion then gives you an opportunity to teach problem-solving skills and good decision-making techniques.

Biblical Advice

Paul the apostle gave young Timothy advice about how to lead God’s family, the church. In 2 Timothy 2:23 he said, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” That’s not only good advice for the church. It’s great advice for the home as well.

Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN

National Center for Biblical Parenting

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