How Strong are Your Expectations?

By Joey and Carla Link
June 1, 2022

How do you stop a child from arguing with you? It is very frustrating when you give your child an instruction and they argue with you. Your first impulse is to argue back and that quickly gets you into a power struggle.

How do your kids build a trusting relationship with you? By doing what you tell them to do? If you can’t trust them to follow through with their instructions and responsibilities but they expect you to stop and listen whenever they want to say something to you, who is really in control?

When you give your child an instruction and expect them to obey you, parents should require a positive, submissive response like “Yes Dad, I will do it.” We recently went on a 4 day “Papa Adventure” with our 2 grandsons, ages 5 and 11 yrs. We went over the rules in the car on our way. The rules were as follows: Rule #1 – “Have fun!” Rule #2 – “When Papa or Grammy call your name what response do you immediately give?” which was followed by the chorus of “Yes Papa/Grammy, coming!” Rule #3 – “No whining or arguing.”

How did the boys do? We didn’t have a problem with them the entire trip. The younger one started whining but we realized it was our problem, not his. We had been on the go since we reached our destination and he was tired, so we slowed things down so he could rest for a while. Why didn’t we have any problems? It goes back to your expectations. To expect something means you “have a strong belief that something will happen the way you want it to.”

When you give your kids/teens an instruction, do you have a strong belief they will complete it the way they know it is supposed to be done? If you do, they won’t argue with you because they know it is pointless to do so.

When I (Carla) would give the kids an instruction and their response was “But Mom…” or no verbal response at all, I would tell them “No ‘But Moms’, I will hear a ‘Yes Mom’.” Did you catch how to stop arguing with your kids? Require them to give you a positive verbal response when you give them an instruction. When I told my kids “I will hear a ‘Yes Mom’”, they knew I had thrown the gauntlet down and if they crossed it they were begging for a correction and consequence, which they would get.

If you can tell your child is in a bad mood before you give him an instruction, tell him to go sit and get his attitude under control and come back to you when he is ready to apologize for his bad attitude. The very best way to stop your kids from arguing with you is to stop arguing with them.

“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life.”
Philippians 2:14-16