How to Get Kids to Stop Arguing With Each Other

Dear Kid Whisperer,

I teach 4th grade and my students are mostly well-behaved. I have a group of three students who sit next to each other who are constantly arguing about every little thing. We do a lot of cooperative learning and we play a lot of games. I feel like I spend half of my day refereeing their drama. Should I move them or what? Please advise. Peggy, Las Vegas NV


Only move these children if you want to deprive them of a wonderful learning opportunity.

How is lecturing and arguing with kids as a means of getting them to stop arguing working for you thus far?

It doesn’t work for me either. I used to involve myself in kids’ nonsense. That was before I came across Love and Logic(R). What I do now allows me to be calm, very strict and get compliance after the first training session.

I’ll give you three different ways to deal with arguing. In this scenario, three kids are arguing over the proper way to play an educational math game .You can choose which one is best for you.

Kid: Give me my money! Teacher! Darnell is cheating and Kayla is laughing at me!

Kid #2: (laughing) No, I’m not!

Teacher: What is it now?

Kid: Well, I’ll tell you. Darnell refuses to give me my money. See, he’s the banker but he doesn’t understand the rules because he wasn’t listening when you explained the rules-

Kid #3: Yes I was! You-

Teacher: Hold on Darnell. Let Katie explain. How many times have I told you to let people talk-

Kid #3: But-

Teacher: You’re not letting me talk! OK, who is supposed to be the banker?

Kid #2 and Kid #3: I am!!

Teacher: You can’t both be the banker! Where are your game pieces?

Kid # 2: Darnell stole them!

Kid #3: NO I DID NOT!!!

Teacher: STOP IT ALL OF YOU!! I have no idea why you can’t listen to the simplest instructions and I have no idea why everyone always accuses you of stealing but you never take responsibility, Darnell. Anyway, you all need to listen and stop arguing while I explain the game again……

These next two scenarios show the two ways I handle this situation.

Kid: Give me my money! Mr. Ervin! Darnell is cheating and Kayla is laughing at me!

Kid Whisperer: Oh, man. Sounds like a problem. Can you all solve this yourselves or would you like me to solve it for you?

Kids: You can solve it!

Kid Whisperer: Okey dokey.

(With a smile, I take the game and put it away)

Done. I find that they choose to solve their own problems after that. The other way I can deal with this situation goes like this:

Kid: Give me my money! Mr. Ervin! Darnell is cheating and Kayla is laughing at me!

Kid Whisperer: Oh, man. Can you solve this problem now, or would you like to solve this problem later?

The arguing continues…

Kid Whisperer: Oh, man. I guess you can solve this problem later.

That day, at recess or after school, I ask them to come sit ask their desks.

Kid Whisperer: Hi everyone. OK, you guys chose to solve your problem later. Now it’s later. Feel free to solve your problem in any way that doesn’t cause a problem. Let me know when you’ve come up with a solution to your problem. Good luck.

At this point I go to my desk and eat a sandwich. As soon as they all agree on a solution, they can leave.

Done. Again, after going through this training session, kids in my classes tend to want to solve their own problems.

Peggy, I hope this helps! Let me know how this goes!

-The Kid Whisperer