Arguing with your child

Arguing, and other communication problems with your child can be just like being on a roundabout. It's so easy to get locked into a cycle in which every response seems to be programmed. One of you has to stop the thing going round. As the adult with the most life experience to draw upon, that person is most likely to be you. The following tips may help you to break the pattern and find a way through to communicating better with your child.

Create a dead end for arguments

That means deliberately breaking the pattern by ignoring irritating behaviour. If you find yourself getting wound up, take a deep breath and end the conversation. Tell your child that you need a bit of time to calm down and will talk to them again in a while. Give yourself some space to do so, and make sure you actually feel a bit calmer before approaching the issue again.

Change what you are saying

Make yourself change the way you talk. Start the conversation on your terms rather than waiting for your child to speak and then reacting angrily. Try talking about something that interests you and then try to draw your pre-teen in. Don't expect an immediate positive response - after all, that roundabout is still going round. It will take a while for the penny to drop that you have stopped pushing.

Trust your own experience

You are older and wiser. If you believe in yourself, your child will believe in you too. If they think you believe in them, they will gradually start to believe in themselves.

Support with family conflicts

None of these steps will be easy and you may want to practise with a friend or speak to a member of our suppoer team to talk through how you are going to manage your reactions and behaviour.

You can call us on our free Family Lives Helpline any time on 0808 800 2222

arguing with child

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

Did you find our advice helpful? Help us help more people by filling in our survey