What This Is Like from a Parent’s Perspective

You’ve let your child know what the boundaries are, and you’ve tried  your best to be firm. But no matter what you do…

…Your child negotiates with you over the boundary

…Your child (illogically) blames YOU for the fact that they didn’t follow the rules

…Your child complains no matter how empathetic and patient you are

You want the power struggles and negotiations to end, but you’re not sure how to make that happen.


What This Is Like from a Child’s Perspective

Your child often knows what the rules are… But that doesn’t mean they like them. And often when kids are frustrated (or feel out of control because someone is telling them what to do)…

… Try to negotiate so that they can feel like they have some say in what happens to them

…Turn their big feelings out on you; if they hurt, they want you to hurt too

…Don’t care bout how empathetic you’re being; they only care that they’re not getting their way.

They’re not handling the situation in a mature way. They’re handling it in the only way they know how.


How It Usually Goes When

Your Child Won’t Stop Arguing Back

Scenario: Preston is singing loudly when his dad asks him to stop. Instead of stopping, Preston insists that he should still be allowed to sing.

Dad: Preston, I asked you to STOP!

Preston: Why?

Dad: Your singing is bothering me.

Preston: I wasn’t singing that loud.

Dad: It was loud enough for it to bother me.

Preston: Well maybe you shouldn’t be bothered.

Dad: PRESTON! Don’t talk to me like that. I don’t like the disrespect.

Preston: You’re being disrespectful to ME because you’re asking me to stop doing something I want to do.

Dad: I’m allowed to ask you to stop doing something.

Preston: And I’m allowed to keep doing what I want.

Dad (yelling): Oh you think SO? Now you’re not allowed to go your friend’s house because of your attitude.

Preston: Fine! I don’t care! I didn’t want to go anyway!

Dad: Oh really? Well then I’ll take away something you DO care about…

Preston:  I don’t care about anything you say!

Both Preston and his dad continue to become more and more argumentative, each trying to demonstrate their power.

How It Could Go (Better) When

Your Child Won’t Stop Arguing Back


Scenario: Preston is singing loudly when his dad asks him to stop. Instead of stopping, Preston insists that he should still be allowed to sing.


Dad: Hey Preston, can you please stop?

Preston: Why?

Dad: I’m trying to read, and I’m having trouble concentrating.

Preston: So go to another room.


Preston’s dad doesn’t like how Preston is responding to him, but he knows if he focuses on Preston’s behavior, he’ll lose his cool and the situation will not be resolved. So he focuses on staying in control of himself and modeling what it looks like to stay calm even when things don’t go the way you want them to. 


Dad: Preston… I know you love to sing. I even heard you singing in the shower yesterday!

Preston: Then let me sing.

Dad: I’ll tell you what. SINCE you love to sing so much and I’m trying to read, let’s find something that works for both of us.


Preston’s dad would just like Preston to see his point of view. But he knows in order for Preston to access the responsible, respectful part of his brain, Preston has to feel respected as well.


Preston: Nothing will work for me except singing.

Dad: Fair enough. Then I want you to choose between singing in your room and using that voice software downstairs.

Preston: I don’t want to.

Dad: Those are your options, Pres.

Preston: I don’t want to.

Dad doesn’t say anything.

Preston’s dad also knows that the more he argues with Preston (to try to show he’s in charge), the more Preston will try to get control back… so he reminds himself not to engage with the conflict. He knows that being silent, rather than letting a negative situation suck him in, is a more effective way to demonstrate authority.

Preston: I’m not going.

Dad doesn’t say anything.

Preston: You can’t make me. (Starts singing again.)

Dad (walks over to Preston): You’re right. I can’t make you. But I can beat you to the basement. (Starts running… Preston follows him.)

Once Preston is in the basement, his dad asks him to make him a song and lets him know that he’ll be down in a little while to hear it. 

As much as Preston’s dad respects Preston, he doesn’t budge in his boundary. But he also doesn’t engage in the conflict. Because he’d seen the situation from Preston’s perspective, he knows that Preston likely feels out of control, and that he’s likely singing because it’s entertaining him… or he’s simply doing it to get his Dad’s attention. So Preston’s dad meets those needs in as he remains consistent in his request for Preston to stop singing.


What You Need to Make This
In-the-Moment Scenario Work


Although Preston’s dad used Calm, Connect, Correct,
proactive tools will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

For him to stay CALM in the moment, she needs tools to reduce her overall Yuck and tools to handle his triggers….

Otherwise the Preston’s behavior will put him into Yuck an ineffective power struggle will ensue.

For him  to CONNECT in the moment, he needs tools to understand what’s causing his son’s negative behavior

Otherwise he won’t recognize that Preston is “fighting” because he’s struggling in some way. He’s likely craving control, attention, and stimulation.

For her to CORRECT in the moment, her son needs to know he means what he says because he’s been consistent in the past.

He also needs to know how to give the the tools they need to succeed.

Otherwise the kids won’t take her seriously and/or won’t be able to do what she wants them to do.