Q: My child loves to argue, he will argue about anything and everything till both he and I get upset. What can I do?

A: Argument deflectors work off the basic premise that it is impossible to argue with someone who is agreeing with you, or at least does not continue to counter your points. In a tense situation, children are often more likely to respond emotionally, and throw out all logic. Reasoning with them at this point is useless. If an argument continues the child's emotions will intensify, and then, imagined or assumed differences can become monumental. Additionally, the longer the argument continues, the more likely the parent is to say or do something they regret. The child may then focus more on the hurtful statement of the parent as a way of avoiding to take responsibility for their own misbehavior. Last, some children enjoy arguments. The expressed emotion of the parent, whether positive or negative, can validate to the child that they are important to the life of the parent. Used properly, argument deflectors stop arguments without the other having to "give in" to save the relationship.

1. If the child is attacking the parent or using logic to create excuses. Examples: You are the meanest mom in the world. You are a fat, rude, *&#$@! Tommy's mom lets him do it. I know there is beer at the party, but I won't drink any. Other kids my age all have cell phones, I need one too. Then use argument deflector statement, "Umm-Hmm, anything else." Continue to respond to the child with this again and again, kind of like the way you used the statement, "I know you are but what am I," as a kid to handle being called names by another kid. Only say it in a pleasant tone of voice. Use this until the child realizes that further arguing is pointless and gives up. Your child may become more upset the first time or two because you will not argue with them. However, eventually they will stop arguing the minute you use argument deflectors, because they know that further arguing is pointless.

2. If the child uses an attack on himself or the relationship. Examples: You never did love me, you wish I was dead. You hate me, you do this because you always hated me. You don't trust me, you have never trusted me. You just want to control me, you need a life of your own. Then use argument deflector statement, "You can choose to think what would like." Remember that if a child is truly at the point he just wants to argue, trying to use logic or defend yourself is pointless. The child will just use this as more opportunities to attack you. Simply use the argument deflector until the child leaves and cools down. Then at a later point you can speak reasonably with them.

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