How to Argue Fairly

Sometimes a heated argument may occur between you and your child. Here are some guidelines to follow to help minimize the anger and hurt that can result during such intense discussions with your child.

  1. Be Respectful. Don’t call names or belittle your child. Never put each other down -- know that to hurt one’s child is to hurt oneself. If you use any harsh words then immediately apologize.

  2. Keep the problem the problem. Do not personalize it. Attack the problem not the person. Maintain ownership of your part of the disagreement. Use "I" or "we" statements instead of "you" statements.

    I am not concerned what other people do my problem is that I care about you and your health and I feel very anxious about you using alcohol and it ending up causing harm and problems for you.

  3. Stay on one subject. If the fight is about drugs, then stay on that subject until there is some kind of resolution. Don’t bring in other problems. Handle one problem at a time.

  4. Use time-outs as needed. If tempers are flaring and you find yourself losing control put the argument on "hold" or call a "time-out" and agree to meet back at a specific time when things have calmed down a little. It may help to do some physical activity like walking around the block or taking a shower to calm tempers.

    Time out! Let’s take a break and revisit this later when we have calmed down.

  5. Listen for understanding. Make a real effort to try and understand each other. Remember all of us want to be listened to. We want and need to feel that what we have to say is important and that our thoughts and opinions are of value.

  6. Don’t read each other by assuming that you know what they are thinking or feeling. Always ask each other what you think and feel because feelings and thoughts change over time.

    I know what you are thinking – I am a mystic…

  7. Try to see things from the other’s point of view as if you were walking in their shoes with their feelings and background. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. When you validate each other’s feelings by acknowledging his/her viewpoint you open the door for the same in return and then both of you will be more willing to solve the problems together.

    Walk a mile in my shoes…

  8. Seek to solve the problem. Work as a team. Don’t bring in others (family, friends, etc.) to gang up on your child. Use this phrase during an argument: "What can we do together to solve this problem? I am willing to do the following…" Then state what you are willing to do and then do it. The time comes to say let’s not look back, let’s look forward.

    Don’t look back – look forward

Adapted from How to Fight Fair