You remember those days: they want to do something else or just not do it at all. You want to help them make sure homework gets done, but sometimes you ask if it’s even worth the fight. It doesn’t have to turn into an argument. Whether its about homework, staying out late or doing their chores…you CAN avoid an argument with your kids.
First, Three Basic Rules About Rules:
Make sure the rules are clear. Are your expectations about what is supposed to be done, and more importantly, HOW it’s supposed to be done the same?
Make sure the rules are consistent. If homework is supposed to be done everyday before television, there are no exceptions (unless, its agreed upon ahead of time).
Check to make sure these rules are still in place and reinforced on a regular basis.
How NOT to Argue (this goes for your kids, your spouse, your family).
Some keywords to remember are:
- Validate: Acknowledge you are listening. You can do this by paraphrasing or repeating what they’ve said to you. This comes in handy when the comeback is “You’re not listening to me!” Sometimes by repeating what they’ve said first, they realize they may not have a valid argument after all.
- Deflect: Sometimes kids will purposely try to start an argument to get out of the chores or responsibilities. They may try to provoke you by ignoring you, starting an argument (how many times have you heard: “But that’s not fair!” or “So-So doesn’t have to do this”). Stay focused on what the issue is. The issue is not that you are unfair or a “slavedriver”, the issue is that the homework was supposed to be done by five o’clock. Repeat this rule (“Even if you think its unfair, the rule is no T.V. before your homework is done.” “You may have more chores than your sister, nevertheless, the rule is you must get them done.”)
- Absorb: If they still attempt provoking an argument, stay cool. Act like a sponge. Whatever is said, simply absorb it. You can do this through “Uh-huh,” “I see”, “Yes,”…but the decision stands. Do not attempt to be drawn into their provocations. If you lose control, you lose the power of the rule. Remember what the issue is. Remember it’s o.k. to become angry for both yourself and your child—you’re both only human. But do not take it personally or allow it to become a personal attack.
Sometimes parents worry that by doing this, they are not allowing their children to express themselves. You can validate their feelings by saying “I can tell you’re angry, but my decision stands.” Sometimes this can be prevented if all of the rules are expressed clearly before the situation arises. It helps if consequences are spelled out for specific actions. (“If your homework is not done by five o’clock, you will not go outside for the rest of the day.”) Some parents (and teachers) have even drawn up “contracts” with their children, spelling out the exact expectations for performance and behavior and the consequences/rewards for each. Make the child part of this progress and ask for their input on what these should be.
These are some suggestions that may help prevent arguments in the future. Many times families repeat the same arguments over and over, on an ongoing basis. While these suggestions are not guaranteed solutions, they may be a start in providing better communication with your family.