My child and I keep getting into arguments
- Making sure arguments don’t define your relationship
Things you can try
Work on noticing when an argument is getting out of hand
As soon as you notice – pause – take a deep breath and try not to turn immediately to blaming yourself or your child. We all do it, but it makes it even harder for us to turn things around.
Try to show you understand how your child is feeling
You can stop and do this even when the argument has already got angry. Say something like “It sounds like you’re really annoyed right now…”
See how they respond and try and think about the emotions that might be making the conflict worse. Is your child worried, or disappointed about something? What is this really about? You know them best.
Find a way to end an argument that helps you show your child that it’s ok to have been wrong
You can model great behaviour for them to learn. Try one of these:
- Show them how to manage strong emotions. If it’s safe to do so, walk away and take some time to think and calm down. Be clear and open. Say something like “I’m going to take a moment to calm down and think”.
- If you think you overreacted, it’s good to apologise. “I am sorry, I got frustrated and shouted”...
When the initial tension has faded, you need follow-up tactics
- You could suggest starting over again. “Let’s review and start the afternoon again”.
- Or you could introduce the idea of following an apology with making amends. Try saying “what can I do to make things better”.
Make sure arguments don’t become the main thing you both remember
Once the moment has passed, remember to focus on the positives.
- Show and tell your child that you love them NO MATTER WHAT, even when you might not like their behaviour.
- Plan enjoyable things to do with your child to remind you both you can still have fun together.
Try using some advance planning strategies to make angry arguments less likely
- Pick your battles - can you offer choices and find a compromise? Are there some minor misbehaviour you can safely ignore? Focusing on praising positive behaviour can help reduce conflict.
- Have clear boundaries or house rules. These can be a huge help when daily conflict threatens to come up about the same things over and over again.
Your child is unique and we hope there are some takeaways here that work for you. If you’re looking for help parenting children with additional needs, you can get specific advice from specialist organisations. Check out our list of support that we can recommend.
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