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WHO is the REAL opponent?  The parent, the spouse, the child, or the issue?

“Children who argue have good character qualities like persistence, perseverance, determination, creativity, and an ability to communicate ideas. The problem with arguing is that your child views you as an obstacle.” Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, authors of Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character in You and Your Kids!, go on to suggest an intriguing perspective:

Make the issue the opponent.  Let parent and child partner together in finding a solution.

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We’re on the Same Team

It’s Rugby World Cup time. I hope my kids see me as a big team mate that tackles our shared obstacle. Let’s take an everyday example. The children come home from school and want a snack (called goûter in France). When I offered fruit, bread and cheese, the kids demanded a “real” goûter, that is, cookies, cakes, AND chocolate spread.

The easiest way to start an argument is to tell the children how wrong they are. “You’re so unhealthy. You don’t care that I want the best for you….”

The second easiest way is to let the kids tell you how wrong you are! “You always make us suffer and you never let us eat anything good….”

Creative Tool Kit

It takes a teeny bit of creativity and exploration to identify the real opponents.  Common ones include parent fatigue, peer pressure, and advertising. With your child (or spouse or even colleague) try some of these healthy relationship tools:

1. Use humor: “You saw those snacks on TV didn’t you? Did they show the trip to the dentist afterwards too?”

2. Take the frustration out on paper Download the boxing girl image.  She can handle your punches!

3. Get more facts: Differences can become emotionally charged. Facts provide objective input which helps to cool down heated exchanges.

4. Share Paradigms: “I understand the issue this way. What’s it mean to you?” Discover tips to Listen with Open Minds

5. Discuss it later, one-on-one: This technique has changed our family rapport. Read My Best Behavioral Habit

According to Miller and Turansky the subjects we argue about are often not THAT important.  We have noticed that is the case in our home.

It is the relationships that matter.

Image by LetMeColor.com
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