image Hi, my name is Truevyne, and I haven't argued for 2 days. On Tuesday, the master debater caught me at a weak moment, and I engaged in a few minutes of a futile meaningless battle. I won't let this discourage me as I press on toward my goal of argument-free parenting.
Here's how it works. I keep a bag of tools I recently learned from our fabulous therapists. The tools are recorded on index cards, and each morning I look over them.
Tool Number 1: Ask more questions and give less directives. It's number one for a reason. Asking questions creates problem solvers who eventually won't need to argue anymore.
Secretly pretend you are playing jeopardy and put every request in question form.
Do you think whining and complaining is going to get me to...? Why do you think I'm asking you to...? What do you think I'm thinking? What do you think I want you to do? What are you supposed to be doing? How's that working for you? What will you need to be ready for soccer? What is the one thing you always forget? Which would you rather do? Wash dishes or clean the table and floor? Which part of what you are doing is respectful? Would you like to get started on that in five minutes or seven? How many times do you think you'll need to ask me that question tonight? It's time to get ready for bed. What are the things you'll need to do for that? How long do you think it will take you to finish your homework tonight? Would it be fun to set a timer to see if you can beat your time from another night? Can you trust me to take care of that? Nobody likes folding laundry. Can you do it anyway? Would you like to fold laundry first or do your homework?
If these questions ellicit arguments, I just say, "Let me know when you are ready to..." and I walk away. If the child follows I ask, "Do you think following will get you what you want?" Or use tool number 2.
Tool Number 2: Loving Responses When my son tries to pin me down for a row, I have memorized a number of phrases in response. These I use a loving response with kindness and sincerity in my voice, NO sarcasm (unless I've fallen off the wagon).
Nevertheless, I need you to... The world is full of surprises. Remind me again, where do you need to be? I don't have time to argue just now. If you still want to argue, I have time at 4:00 this afternoon. Thanks for telling me how you feel. Thanks for letting me know.
And my all time favorite...
I love you too much to argue, dumplin'.
Tool Number 3: Journaling
Let the child journal the argument to look over together LATER when the conflict isn't so hot. Many times, my child thinks what he wrote earlier in the heat of the moment is ridiculous.
Tool Number 4: Crosstalk
Ask respectful and concerned questions of another adult like, "When do you think Junior will be ready to take responsibility for forgetting to feed the dog? I wonder if it will be today or tomorrow?" or "Do you think Junior would like to join us on our family outing or sit and watch us play when we get there?"
Don't ask other children, because sometimes children will respond in a mean way. Seriously, I crosstalk to my cat when my husband is not around. "Patches, do you think my son will ever want to do what I've just asked? Don't you hope so?"
I'm interested to hear if anyone out there tries any of this stuff. The therapists advised us to pick one thing to work on for the day in the beginning.
Occasionally, stop by and ask me about my arguing sobriety. It'll keep me on my toes.