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Thread: Arguing… This mom needs some help!

  1. #1

    Default Arguing… This mom needs some help!

    My 4 year old argues with everything I say, and it is really starting to drive me batty. I find myself arguing right back which honestly doesn’t help the situation and leaves me even more frustrated. My DH goes to work at 4 am, so that leaves me to get the boys ready in the mornings by myself and that is where the arguing begins. He doesn’t like his underwear, shirt, pants, socks, etc… that I have picked out for him. So he rips them off as I am trying to put them on him. I tell him to pick out what he wants to wear and he says “I don’t want to” (Another sentence that drives me crazy). I have to get the baby to the sitter, him to preschool, and myself to work five days a week and something has to change because I feel like I need Prozac by the time I make it to work. I wish I could say that it is only in the mornings, but it is in the afternoons as well in regards to picking up his toys, going to bed, and really anything we ask him to do or not to do he argues or does it anyway. I’m not a fan of spanking. Should I be putting him in time out every time he starts an episode of deliberate defiance? I really could use any advice at this point on how to handle this.

  2. #2


    My DS is only two right now and has picked up on arguing. It's just the two of us when DH is at work. When he says, "I don't want to," (which I also don't like) I simply say, "ok, then you can do it by yourself" and start to walk away. For my DS this is AWFUL! Screams if I walk away from him so he'll change his attitude ASAP.

    Other times he goes straight to timeout if I know walking away to let him do the task alone will not work or isn't an option.

    And if he's REALLY out of hand, he gets a spanking; although, I've learned that timeout has a much greater affect on him.

    I have a pretty sensitive little guy so his emotions get his attention more than anything else. Having to sit in timeout without Momma talking to him really gets the message across to him.

    Every kid is different so I would see what works with your son. Keeping a favorite toy with you until he can learn to behave? Timeout? it possible to go early one day and when he doesn't want to put any of the clothes on that you have for him and doesn't want to pick any out, he goes to school as is? In pjs? And see if that teaches him a lesson? Maybe once he arrives or even starts to leave the house, he'll be begging to put clothes on in which you'd have an extra pair tucked away.

    I tried it with DS on a much smaller scale. He didn't want to put his shoes on. I proceeded to leave and put him in the car barefoot. We didn't even make it out of the driveway because he was crying so much for his shoes. He's never done that again either. Lol As I said though, all kids are different and this could be a total flop with your DS.

    I've rambled on plenty...I hope you can find something that works for you and DS so the mornings go a bit better. Hugs!
    Angela, Andrew & Nicholas

    Three sweet angels in heaven

  3. #3


    This is a tough age and both of my older ones drove me batty with the arguing as well. Some things that I found to be helpful:
    Can he choose his own clothes the night before? Children like to feel like they have a little control over their lives so giving them chances to do this can help with the constant defiance. I'd have him do it the night before to save time and avoid the heat of the moment morning times when you both are upset so he'll say, "I don't want to" to anything you ask him.

    Are there some natural consequences you could enforce? Like, if you don't pick up your toys we are not going to have time for our bedtime story. You could make a checklist for him in the morning of all the things he needs to do and he could check each thing off as he does it. If it gets done timely enough maybe he has time for something special in the morning? (story, coloring, tv, whatever you guys like to do) My kids love to check off their chore charts and feel really happy when it's all done.
    If that doesn't sound like it would work, you could try some sort of reward behavior chart system so he knows exactly what it is expected of him each day, how he can accomplish them, and what will happen if he does it.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    EVV IN


    Cody is usually a sweet kid but, he does like to argue with me and its rather irritating. This happens when he is frustrated. Cody dresses himself so maybe could your son do it himself? He might do better by doing it on his own. I have looked at Cody and said "Quit arguing with me" and had a stern face and he does stop. We do timeouts if he gets really bratty with the arguing. He has told me I am not his mommy, he doesn't have a mommy, and only has a daddy. For that I say okay and don't feed into and send him to his room.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    I agree with Bridget that children like to feel like they have some control. I try to give a lot of choices, but I usually limit it to two. For example, you can pick out two outfits you are ok with and ask "Would you like to wear the blue shirt or the red shirt?" It can be overwhelming for a small child to look at the entire closet and try to pick something, but if one is picked out without their input, they don't have any control at all. So, offer choices with boundaries. (Make sure you only give choices you are ok with!) The book "Parenting with Love and Logic" (or Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood) talks a lot about giving choices, as well as utilizing natural consequences. I might get flamed for this, but if my daughter was physically fighting putting on clothes after being given choices and it was getting to an extreme, I might be tempted to say (in a calm voice, not a punishing voice) "Ok, it looks like you are choosing to go school in your underwear. Time to go!" And put her in the car without clothes (bringing a blanket or something if it was chilly, and her clothes in a bag. I bet by the time I pulled up to the school she would be ready to get dressed, and might think twice before doing it again. (And before I get too flamed, I would not do this if it were freezing outside) I don't follow Love and Logic to a tee, but I think it has some great ideas and my daughter response really well to it. The point of the book is raising a child who can think through situations themselves and take responsibility for their decisions. The only way to do that is to allow them to have control over their choices (age appropriately) and to experience realistic consequences of those choices. Then the consequence is because THEY chose it.

    Also, making a game of something can go a long way. Like picking up toys, you can make it a race to see how fast he can pick them up. Or you can choose a toy and make it a hunt. "Can you find the blocks? Where did they go? Oh! You found one! You have good eyes! Can you find more?" Or counting; "Lets see how many cars we can find! Can you count with me? One, two, three..." Or help him feel proud of knowing where it goes. "Do you know where this goes? Yes! You remembered!" Or put music on and dance while you put stuff away, etc. Another thing with cleaning that I found works for my daughter is to sing our "clean up song." "Clean up! Clean up, every body clean up! Its time to clean, everybody, yeah!" Its funny, my DD will start singing and picking up happily, when just 30 seconds before she had no interest in it.

    Oh, another thing I try to do is phrase things in a positive way rather than a negative way. Instead of "No playing until your room is clean", you can say "Yes, you may play, as soon as your room is clean." It takes away the power struggle. You are not saying "no", you are saying "yes"... but with a boundary.

    Just some ideas. Hope you find something that works for you!

  6. #6


    Order 123 Magic by Thom Phelan for cheap on Amazon and do what it says! It will help, promise.

  7. #7


    Honestly, I am like Polly and immediately thought that I would take him to school without clothes lol! That would just be my first reaction but I am kind of warped in a few ways lol!

    Elle is 4 and doesn't really argue with me but I am really anti-arguing with practically everyone. Also, I think it depends on the child when it comes to choices. My DS, when he was younger did not do well with choices so I took away alsmost all his choices and only gave him small ones. I think they were overwhelming for him and also it caused a lot of problems so I picked out all his clothes. I do have to tell Elle to not be contrary every once in a while. When she tries to start an argument with me I will let her know that she is being argumentative and that I'm not going to argue with her. If she keeps it up, I will make her sit on the step and she won't do it anymore. She knows that Mommy doesn't argue just because. We can argue over important things one day. She tells me she will think of an important argument lol.

    In your situation, I'd probably get myself ready, then get him up and dress him completely myself. If he got violent, I would do like Polly said and leave him, get the baby dressed/ready to go and take him to school in no clothes. And I will probably get flamed too, but don't mind, but I do remember once Ky refused to put on his shoes and at the time we were in Ohio and it was winter and I told him if he didn't put them on his feet would be cold outside, he was acting all nutty so I grabbed him by the hand, took his boots in my large purse and let him walk outside to the car, through snow, with no shoes (or socks) on. When he got in his carseat he wanted his shoes and we never had that happen again. That was back when DH said I was extraordinarily mean to him (I call those times our battle years and FWIW, he is the sweetest guy you would ever meet now and you would never think he used to be a nut lol), but really I didn't yell or get upset. In that instance he wanted the choice so I gave it to him and he decided it wasn't a good choice after the fact. Cold feet weren't going to harm him, even on snow, for 2-3 minutes walking to the car, but it did teach him why we wear shoes, especially when it is winter and snow was on the ground.


  8. #8


    Yep, sounds like Katie to a T! She does it more with Erin and I than she does with DH, but she does it with him somewhat, too. We try to let her have some say in certain things, but there are other things where she has no choice, and if we have to tell her more than once and she still doesn't do what we say, then she goes in time out. As much as possible, we let her wear what she wants to wear. If what she wants to wear is not weather-appropriate, we will explain to her why it isn't and she will usually co-operate and change, or if she wants to wear a summery dress and it's winter, she has to wear sweat pants or at least leggings underneath it, things like that. When we fix dinner, we let her have some say in what she eats, as in she doesn't have to eat every item we fix, but she does have to choose from what we're having, and we always make sure there is some part of the meal that we know she likes (I learned this from my mother). I'm a firm believer in allowing a child to have SOME control over some things in their world. So what if she wants to wear a purple shirt and green pants and red shoes? Who does it hurt?
    Lynne, Grandma to three beautiful girls and one handsome little man!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011


    We added picking out clothes for the next day before bed. I am usually not in a rush and like others said, I will let her choose. If she is having a hard time, I will pick 2 outfits and let her pick. She really likes knowing what she will be doing tomorrow and laying her clothes out. Now there is less argueing, but some mornings she wants to put on all her clothes by herself. I usually try to help, but if she refuses my help, I leave her to try and get the other one ready.

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