Dealing with Child Arguing, Complaining and Questioning

At times children can be so well-behaved and then seemingly in an instant, they turn into little monsters. Children are exposed to a variety of influences. School and television are big influences in our kid’s lives but we are the biggest influence and since we cannot always control the messages our children are hearing from television and friends, it is imperative that we are a positive influence.

It feels as if your child is being very disrespectful when they argue with you about everything you say. You could tell them the sky is blue, point to it and they will still find a way to argue. Some children can really push their parent’s buttons by going into auto-complaint mode or constantly questioning and negotiating to the point where the parent hastily, and later, regrettably yells, “SHUT UP!”

Children are naturally curious and want to learn and try things their own way but there is a line between becoming independent and being disrespectful and it is important that they know where that line is and if they cross it there will be consequences.

Before getting into what you can do to help your child you need to first take a look at yourself and ask these questions:

  1. Are you spending enough quality time with your child?
  2. Do you spoil your child?
  3. Are you parenting by example; that is do you handle things in the house by arguing and complaining?

To help your child, evaluate your role as a parent and see what you can do better. For example, Madalyn, age 7, has a tendency to get really nasty, argumentative and bossy after she gets home from childcare. When her parents are preparing dinner she will whine about how hungry she is and gets angry easily. She throws a tantrum when she is told she can’t have the various unhealthy snacks she gets out of the pantry. However, shortly after sitting down for dinner, she becomes a perfect little angel. Madalyn is acting out because her blood sugar is low and she is hungry but her parents are feeling frustrated and disrespected.

It can be difficult dealing with this kind of outburst and attitude. It definitely takes longer to make dinner when you are trying to figure out what is wrong or you have to discipline your child. In cases like this there are some things the parents could do to mitigate the problem. They could give her a healthy snack as soon as she arrives home or send her out to play while preparing dinner. They could also encourage her to help by setting the table, chopping vegetables and getting drinks ready.

Try not to let your emotions overcome you and make you do or say something you will regret. Your child may not be controlling their emotions but as parents we should be able to keep ours in check most of the time.

If your child constantly challenges everything you say and talks back to you, you need to take steps to break this habit. First, realize that children aren’t fully capable of managing their emotions and don’t know how to process fear, anger, anxiety and rage. Any of those emotions may be driving the behavior. Make sure that your child knows that you love them unconditionally, encourage them to talk and listen to what they have to say. Do not immediately shut them down if you are hearing things that are uncomfortable or inappropriate as it is important that your child feels heard and knows it is safe to come to you if they need to talk.

Additional methods for dealing with your child’s behavior include:

  • Taking things away for a period of time such as watching TV or playing the Wii.
  • Time outs – have a certain spot in the home where your child goes for time out.
  • Behavior charts or chore charts are great tools. As your child completes their chores and exhibits appropriate behavior, they are rewarded with a sticker or magnet on the chart. These stickers or magnets can then be used for allowances or special outings. When your child exhibits undesirable behavior, you remove a sticker or magnet.