Tuesday, 6 January 2015

But Daddy.......


James, 3, has entered that wonderful age where he loves to argue with everything that you say and do.

I know William, now 5, use to do this but my silly dad head has completely forgotten all about it (It must have been traumatic for my brain to black it out)

So I thought the best thing for me to do is write up my experience with James; That way  I wont forget.

It really doesn't matter what we do; It could be something fun and adventurous to something monotonous and routine and James wants to argue.

But Why does he do this?

Children have the need for power.

They see it everywhere they go; At School and Nursery they see that adults (the ones with power) flock and obey the alpha adult. At home, whatever your situation, they see the power struggle going on, for all those who think your relationship is equal, lets be honest, it isn't; one of you is the boss. Even in society they see different professions, like the Police, take power over the situation.

It makes perfect sense then that, from the child's point of view, they want some of the power. But don't we all? (He says with a maniacal laugh, stoking his white fluffy Persian Cat, plotting the worlds end)

With James, as my example, he does two main things;

1: But Daddy....

At this point he needs to argue what you have said or at least validate in his own mind. Negotiate and use the situation to his own means.


2: Selective Hearing

Absolutely point blank, refuse to do what you ask. Resisting every opportunity to consider anyone with an ounce of authority around him; It is truly his way or the highway. Otherwise I will just stop listening and do my own thing anyway.

With Christmas now over, I have to admit that I struggled with him arguing. His routine had changed; no nursery, having to see lots of people, have toys that he can play with to his hearts content and not seeing his mum as much as he would usually do (Instead of a 16 day split with daddy we had many different combinations of days and hours over a 23 days period)

The thing was though, at the time, I was stressed and tired too. So every time James argued I, subsequently, argued back.

It is such an easy thing to do. You are rushing around and tired a question is raised you give possibly a short and non empathetic answer and the arguing begins and before you know it the last hour has been completely over taken with if he can have 5 chocolate coins for Dinner rather than eating a proper dinner.

I know this is easy for me to say...but don't enter the argument! I am a 32 year old man arguing with a 3 year old. Is this really what is meant to happen.

No it isn't . But not for the reason you might think. Most would assume that the age difference, as well as being his Dad, gave me the power in the situation so therefore there should only be one outcome....Dad is right and James is wrong.

I will strongly disagree here. Stop being a part of the power struggle. It takes two to argue. You should, and I know it is difficult, make a firm commitment not to enter and engage into the argument. Explain clearly and calmly your reasons. If by that point they carry on just do not respond or walk away. The problem you face is that the moment that you argue you are automatically giving the power to your child. You are saying that I am, right now, treating you as my equal and giving you the power that I have to completely accepted your terms for your view and I now will argue with you.

This may sound incredibly harsh but it is completely true.

What we are talking about at this point is very clear. The difference between power and authority.

The only main conclusion here is this:

When you confront your child, empathise, understand and communicate to your best ability, but do not control. Stay calm and try not to let them push your buttons despite whatever the situation brings. Stop and think, stop and consider every word that you will say and do not rush straight into the argument. And more importantly focus on influencing your child's motivation. In doing this you are allowing your child to have power, you are valuing their opinion and their views but subsequently they are seeing that you are still in charge and you have the authority in the situation.

My two biggest worries in this situation come from the idea that:

A: Doesn't this always mean he wins?

B: If I control and argue to the point that I win that I devalue his opinion and he will either grow being aggressive with his view points or down trodden and quiet.

I do believe though that, however difficult all of this is, allowing and empathising with his view point, but still clearly putting yours across and not subsequently arguing about it, will allow him power and for me to retain my authority.

What do you? Do you argue with your child? How do you avoid or deal with it? Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com


Pam Charles, Authot said...

We have a rule in our house. If a discussion is getting out of hand, we go to separate rooms. Once we've calmed down we get together and talk things through. That way, we are both calm. It has worked on both my children (one is 16 and the other is 8). The 8 year old is very argumentative but he is not always in the wrong. As an adult we should accept we are not perfect and we make mistakes. I tell mine all the time when I am in the wrong and then point out where they could have been wrong too. Children need to be able to feel they are listened to especially by us parents.

Standing their ground is how they learn the values in life - negotiation, independence, listening, understanding, apologising. As every child is different, it is important for us to be flexible

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks for commenting Pam!
Have you always had that rule or did it grow out of realising that you were arguing a lot?
I try my hardest to walk away and then approach the topic calmly and do what you've have said....but it's so easy to be drawn into the on suing argument.
I agree, they're doing it to formulate their views, feelings and opinions. And we as adults need to allow them to do that without necessarily arguing that they are wrong and we are right. Ultimately they're like all of us and want to feel valued and listened to, have a empathetic conversation and know that it is valid, even if it isn't always practical.

Joy said...

I argue with my five year old..when I find myself doing it I reassess the situation.

Pam Charles, Authot said...

It is a rule we have always had. With my eldest it was just the way we coped with life. Neither of us like arguing or bad feeling so it grew organically and worked. My eldest didn't argue a lot but my youngest is a debater, and a very good one! We are both very alike and I love how he challenges things. For me it is about them learning how to argue respectfully.

It is so easy to be drawn into arguments. Children are brilliant at manipulating your actions and pulling at your heart strings at the same time. When my youngest starts, I pause and think whether it's worth the fight, more often that not it isn't.

Martyn Kitney said...

It's good that you have always done it. I, sadly, haven't. For a long time I would argue until I got my own way. It made realise at one point how childish I was acting and changed. My eldest it the negotiator and a very good one at that.....He has fantastic logic that is often difficult to argue anyway. And I point blankly refuse to use the phase "because I said so"

My youngest is the one who argues and argues for the sake of it.
They are great at making you rethink what you would normally say and adapt to manipulate you as often as possible.
I still have a long way to go! But I count to ten and decide if it's worth it. Like you, more often than not, it's not worth it.

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks for commenting. It is easily done at this age! I'm constantly reminding myself that I'm the adult and shouldn't venture into arguments with them where they're so young!

Unknown said...

Sounds to me like you've got the balance just right there. When my stepson tried to suck me in to arguing I've now learnt to stop, take a step back, think and assess the situation. It's a fine balance between allowing opinion and

Unknown said...

....expression yet showing authority. Like you, if I stop and think, 9/10 times it can be avoided.
An interesting read Martyn

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks Al. It is a fine balance and can take a while to really set into that mindset.

Plutonium Sox said...

Great post. I'm afraid I have a zero tolerance approach to this because if Libby argues with me she'll argue with other adults which I see as rude. So tribal of treats tends to ensue if she won't calm down. Harsh but she is a lovely little girl as a result.x

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks Natalie. My tolerance is incredibly low at times its horrible. I see it as rude too. My youngest argues with my elderly dad, deservedly in fairness, but it is rude and makes me quite cross. I think I'm on top of it now. My eldest doesn't argue anymore and is more of a polite negotiator....which I find lovely.

Unknown said...

As a single dad with a seven year old daughter I'm absolutely dreading the days when she gets older. We don't "argue" very much but she has my wittiness and sarcasm so it leads to some awkward moments at times, and as she gets older and learns to harness her words better it's going to be quite the adventure. Good post Martyn alot of food for thought there.

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks Gary! I find it difficult being a single dad because my youngest is so much like his mum especially when he argues! Facial expressions the lot. I think that's why I struggle more with him. But ,like you, my eldest is like me....same wittiness, humour and logic. Even now at 5 (almost 6) he puts across a good negotiation that I have trouble disagreeing with.....I think when he actually turns into a teenager I'm more than likely to struggle more with him!

Dan DBTH said...

I find it hard to keep a straightface when arguing with my son who is nearly three. He is developing some solid logic and quite cutting put downs - I want give him a high five a lot of the time. This really isn't the way it should be.

Martyn Kitney said...

Ha!! I wish I could...I'd much rather enjoy the fact that they're doing it rather than getting stressed about it. Some days, especially with James, 3, by about midday my eyes start getting tired and sore from it all. It takes a lot for me to hold it in lol. So your way might not be the way it should be but at least it's a nice way.

Ally Messed Up Mum said...

Send them to the chokey ....

Martyn Kitney said...

I didn't think we were allowed to publicise that we still did that?? ;-)

Paul said...

I have all of this ahead of me with my 8 month old, dreading it as I`m too soft with my daughter already, my wife will need to be the tough cop..

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks for commenting Paul! It's a very difficult stage to be going through. The fact that you can make your wife the bad cop is a hood thing. Although I'm sure there will be moments that you will have to too. Good luck. Let me know how you get on with it and if you have any tips.

Anonymous said...

My son is 4 and I have many of those 'but mom!' moments. I try not to rush and get mad right up but talk to him about it. Sometimes my son listens a lot of times he doesn't. Slowly tho we are having less complaining. I dont know if thats because he is getting older or the talking works. I need to know for sure. #BrillBlogPosts

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks for commenting Pixiedusk.
I try that approach too. I think at the moment it works less than what it should. But the fact that your son is complaining less at four brings me hope. When you do know for sure pop back and let me know. Will help give me the patience to carry on with it. Or not if that's the case.

Emma T said...

Mine's just turned 4 and luckily on the whole he's not too argumentative. I do get really exasperated with his selective hearing though - he gets it from his dad, then I end up shouting because neither of them listen. Drives me insane, but it's a real challenge to stay calm and let things go.

Martyn Kitney said...

I think they all have these little 'bad' habits. The selective hearing is very frustrating. It all depends on the mood I'm in on how I handle it. I can snap quicker but I try to talk first. My eldest Is almost 6. He's nearly completely out of the arguing stage. So am hoping it won't last long, for either of us.

Thanks for commenting emma

Honest Mum said...

You're spot on with your approach I reckon, kids need boundaries but shouting when they are, proves nothing (I really am trying not to shout as much here)-love that you want to listen to his point of view, it's so important kids are heard and listened to. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks for commenting. It's really difficult not to jump in and argue back. It really proves nothing and can often make the situation worse, or at least make your child feel worse. The fact that you're trying is the main thing. It will make such a difference.
They need to know that their 'argument' is valid but that doesn't always mean that it's the right path to take. So hearing and listening is such a key thing. I wish and aim to do this more.

No problem will link up more to #brilliantblogposts

ERFmama said...

Very good post. :)
We are currently got two very very strong little people in the household, one is 4 going on 14 and the other one is 2 going on 4...haha


Martyn Kitney said...

Thanks for commenting Therese! Ah no! Well you have my complete empathy and sympathy!! Mine are a year older than yours....and I'm only starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with my eldest. 2 more years of this maybe with the youngest. :-/ mini teenagers the lot of them!