The following was posted on Facebook as a response to my post “How to Neutralize Arguing”. It eloquently expresses the feelings that many parents have when reading parenting advice in column and website form. The post’s author has graciously allowed me to reproduce her post here. It also appears as a comment for the aforementioned post.
The problem for me with an article like that is that it makes me feel like a failure when it doesn’t work for me. I have used these steps for the past 4 years or so, and they actually created more of a brat problem. If my 7 year old says rude and argumentative things to me, she gets locked in time-out (locked because otherwise she would get out and hit me/yell at me). Sometimes nicey-nice solutions like playing brain dead and making an appointment to argue do not work…I wish they could have, though. Sigh. -Elaine
Thank you for your excellent response post. You bring up some great points that remind me why I started this blog in the first place and how we can improve it.
One of the main reasons I started this blog is that I completely agree with you about most of these “tip-based” columns or websites. They tend to give you a tip with incomplete or incorrect ways of dealing with issues, you try it out, it seems like it doesn’t work, you feel like a failed parent, you get frustrated, and the frustration makes the parenting experience even worse. People think, “What’s wrong with me?”
I’m here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with you—there is something wrong with us, the people giving the advice in an ineffective way. That is why I started this blog. Unlike a column or other websites, this is interactive. We all learn from asking questions. I’d like to ask everyone reading this to feel free to respond to anything you don’t fully understand or that you disagree with by saying, “Yeah, but…” and, “What if?” Not only is it the best way for you to learn, it is the best way for me to teach! I may omit something in an effort to be concise, and by asking questions you can make sure I do a good job of thoroughly explaining a skill. So again, everyone, please “Yeah but…” and “What if?” me as much as possible! You can place these comments directly on this blog by clicking “Comments” or by clicking on the “Ask a Question” button which will take you to my Facebook page.
As for your issue in particular, we need to start with two umbrella ideas that will help both you and me make this blog work for us.
1) When used cumulatively, Love and Logic® Skills will be the most effective way of dealing with any issue you may have with a child.
2) Each skill is effective to do only what it is intended to do.
So, the skill of Neutralizing Arguing is only effective to stop a child from being able to argue with you. When done correctly, there is literally no possible way that your child will be able to argue. The steps are merely the best way to show your child that you love them, the argument is their problem, and you will not argue with them. Remember, if you don’t argue, it’s not an argument. Keep in mind, what your child wants is an argument. Your child’s goal is not to scream at the sky and have a private freak out.
But guess what?
It’s our goal.
(Insert evil super-villain laugh here.)
It may sound crazy, but we want her to be angry and frustrated while we remain calm. As long as it doesn’t hook us into the argument, it’s a good thing. Her tantrum paired with your calmness shows your child that this problem is your daughter’s, not yours. Her freak out is not only good, it has to happen! Here are a couple of Love and Logic truths about kids:
Kids have to do a bit of suffering in order to grow.
When you do the right thing with a challenging kid, it often feels like the wrong thing.
So if you go through the four steps and she is left alone in a room screaming at the wall and having what I call a “monoargument,” guess what? It worked! She is doing exactly what you want her to do! As a Love and Logic teacher, I pray for kids to act out because I know that I have the skills to deal with any negative behavior that my students may exhibit! I know how to change negative behaviors into positive ones by making negative behaviors non-functional. The idea here is that, when used cumulatively, Love and Logic skills put us in the driver’s seat. It stops us from depending on prayer to manage the children in our care (as in, Please God, please let my daughter not argue with me tonight, I have to get some sleep). We are the masters of our houses and classrooms and by using these skills we can achieve this with a minimum of stress.
“Yeah, but,” you might say, “if she is screaming at me, have I really solved the problem?”
My answer is yes. You have stopped her from arguing. YOU control whether or not she is able to argue. What you cannot control is whether or not she has a temper tantrum. So please don’t try. We never try to control what we are not able to control. If you have gotten your child to the temper tantrum stage by faithfully following our steps without anger, warnings, lectures, or threats, you have neutralized an argument successfully. It has worked. Good job. If you consistently use these steps, she will eventually also stop the tantrums that begin with arguments. She won’t even attempt to argue anymore because it no longer gets her what she wants.
“Yeah, but…” you say, “I can’t have a kid screaming at the top of her lungs, breaking things and trying to hurt me.”
Now you need to use another skill to deal with the nuclear meltdown in your living room.
That skill is called Utilizing the Recovery Process. It is not “time-out.” Maybe someone will ask me a question about it…
-The Kid Whisperer