When dealing with kids who constantly argue with you, here’s the thing: they need more “No’s.” They argue because you cave too much. Kids need gentle but firm “No’s.” They obviously don’t know how to deal with not getting their way, so they need more practice!
This is not to say that you need to be a tyrant. I’ve seen this as well, and it’s dense thinking. The parent assumes he’s the big man on campus and bosses the kid around, arguing about everything. The intent is to cow the kid and let them know who is boss. This doesn’t create respect and harmony – it creates a parent that’s an ass.
You must have calm but firm authority. No yelling and no getting frustrated – because that’s their goal! Losing control most likely means you’ll give up. But as I’ve said, kids want to have limits and boundaries. It makes them feel safe. So you have to change YOU. You have to change the way you react to what they say and do.
Express gratitude and pleasure when your children do something right and completely change your reaction when they do something wrong.
Take a firm, authoritative, calm stance.
For example, as a substitute teacher, I don’t want to charge into the school and be a meanie. But what if a kid is climbing on the lunch table? What are my choices?
“Oh, silly, you’re climbing on the table!” versus “Really? Get down.” The first is not going to work. The second works without being harsh or disrespectful.
Don’t let this stuff slide and don’t ignore it because you don’t want to seem mean. What’s mean about teaching kids manners and respect? Stay calm, matter-of-fact, and authoritative. “Bottom on the chair, feet on the floor.” That’s all there is to it. Tap them on the leg with a physical cue if needed, but beyond that, the kid is getting their hunky butt off the table! It’s like pouring a glass of milk. You don’t hesitate doing that, do you? No! You get your glass, open up the milk, and pour it in. Assume an authoritative role and act like the decision is as easy as pouring milk. They will get off the table and they will sit appropriately. Period. It’s not a big deal to stop acting like a monkey. They can do it, and they will live!