Sunday, April 15, 2012

Arguing With Your Kids (a revisit)

"Because I said so!"

Every parent winds up saying this, whether they like it or not. What's the alternative? Sit there and debate with your 11-year-old on the merits of a new toy truck or a face tattoo of them fatally stabbing a policeman?

No, in these situations it's best to quickly put your foot down and make it clear who's the boss. Arguing with them on everything will only undermine your authority and turn your kids into confrontational, spoiled pricks. Besides, what can possibly be gained by arguing with a child?

The Surprising Benefit

Actually, science says that those fights provide excellent opportunities for your children to practice their reasoning, discussion and negotiation skills. So as long as they are using rational arguments and calmly explaining their point of view to you, don't immediately go all alpha dog on them and end the conversation with the "Because I said so" trump card. Your willingness to have a discussion might actually save your younglings from a life of alcohol and drugs down the line, according to researchers from the University of Virginia.

In their study of 157 13-year-olds over a period of two years, they discovered that teens who learned how to stand up for themselves and intelligently argue their point could later use those skills in other situations. Specifically, against the boogeyman of all parents everywhere: peer pressure. (Parents, we talked about this during admission interview)

It turns out that persuasiveness is a pretty useful thing in a school environment, especially when it comes to declining a hit of smoking to the eyeball during sport practice. In the study, kids who mastered the art of arguing by first practicing it on their folks were then 40 percent more likely to say no to all sorts of vices, while those who were constantly shushed by their parents responded to most bad influences with a submissive "Yeah, sure, whatever ..."

The thing is, the world is full of tough-guy fathers who insist that their sons learn how to fight, knowing that someday they may need to stand up to a bully. Maybe Dad will even strap on boxing gloves and take the kid into the field to teach him how to punch. But when's the last time you've heard of parents doing the same with verbal sparring? You know, teaching their kids how to win verbal arguments for the same reason -- that they're sure to need it on the playground or in classroom. Verbal arguments were a more common even in our time than fistfights. So why don't we practice them – with our kids?

p.s – You can sign-up your kids into our school debate club for a start.

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