How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian

Posted by: MsFriz

How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/19/09 06:20 AM

Lately, my DS4 has begun to constantly challenge the things we tell him and automatically resist doing the things we ask him to do. He disagrees just for the sake of disagreeing, even if he knows what he's saying isn't true. For example, if I say "You can't have oatmeal for breakfast because we don't have any." His response is "Yes, we do." If I say something is pink, he'll pounce and insist it's fuschia. If I say his hands are dirty, he'll insist they're clean. It's become a major battle to get him to eat anything ("I don't like the part of the pancake that's cooked"), brush his teeth, get dressed, or take a bath. He just wants his way with everything.

Has anyone dealt with this type of behavior with any success?
Posted by: OHGrandma

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/19/09 06:52 AM

Yes, and without duck tape or valium!

The short term trick is to make it so he is not arguing with you. For example, he wants oatmeal, you know there is no oatmeal. Tell him "sure, if we have any. Go look on the shelf and see if we have any."
ack, I'm out of time to answer much more. Basically, have the facts confront him, not you. His argumentiveness is a stage but can develop into a habit unless thwarted quickly. GS9 still tries it, but doesn't succeed most of the times. My goal is to instill values in him, then send him to law school wink
Posted by: JustAMom

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/19/09 06:57 AM

Sometimes I think this is the trait of gifted children. It's a good way to test the boundaries and test the exact definition of what is being said. Consistency and simplicity is the best course and remind yourself.... "adults do not argue with children" when you find some inclination to validate your rules. :S

Clever children know how to wear adults down.
Posted by: CAMom

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/19/09 08:14 AM

Days like this, we say "Whatever chocolate cake!" We've told DS that sometimes, he just is so contrary that we could offer chocolate cake for breakfast and he'd refuse and argue. Now he usually laughs when we say it and realizes he's being absurd. But it's taken a while.

OHG's suggestion to tell him to go find it and look himself is very helpful. I've also found it helpful to be very direct. I wouldn't ever tell DS his hands were dirty. I tell him to please go wash them. If he begins to argue, I say "I didn't say they were dirty, I asked you to wash them" and then walk away.

We've done a LOT of training in proper arguing and logic. I found this magazine article a while back and it really points out essentially what we do in our house- http://wondertime.go.com/parent-to-parent/article/why-kids-should-talk-back.html

Sometimes, we just declare a "your way day" where DS gets to choose nearly everything. We have veto power for anything too expensive or dangerous. Yes... sometimes he does have sugar for breakfast, wear his jammies to the grocery store and play video games all day. Generally, when he's had his day, he's content for several weeks, sometimes months, to just be "all bossed around!"
Posted by: Barbara

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/19/09 09:58 AM

oooh! I like this article! Thanks!

MsFriz - you are not alone
Posted by: HoosierMommy

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/19/09 11:38 AM

Wow, this sounds like DD3. There have been several times I've looked out the window and said, "Oh, it's raining outside," and she'll insist it's not raining. My favorite is when she tells me the sky isn't blue after I've commented on how nice and blue the sky is on any given day. I told my mother she's going to be a lawyer.
Posted by: snowgirl

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/19/09 12:26 PM

DD8 does this arguing all the time and drives me crazy (the sky isn't blue, no I don't want ice cream, no that's not the right answer to my homework question, etc.). She's been doing it for years and for a while it was so bad I thought it was part of her SPD (seriously!!!). I never thought it could be a gifted thing. The mere idea that it might be "normal" is actually quite comforting. (Maybe it's being the daughter of two lawyers? though we don't usually argue like that at home.) Along the same lines, unfortunately she's also amazingly good at catching me everytime I try to offer a simple explanation to get someone off my back about how/why; I usually end up with "well then go ask daddy!"
Posted by: Mom0405

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/19/09 12:38 PM

That is a great article. There are som other good ones in the "More" section as well. I wish teachers would learn to not let the kids get to them. I am sure there are some out there. Hopefully we'll get one eventually.:)
Posted by: Kriston

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/19/09 02:57 PM

Ah! CAMom! That article makes my heart go pitter-pat! You do know the way to make an old argumentative writing teacher happy, don't you! smile

I so wish that Americans (in particular) would do a better job of understanding that it's possible--even desirable!--a) to disagree and not have the other side be evil, and b) to find points of commonality without having to water down one's position.

Polite disagreement is possible! It's even persuasive!

Thank you so much for posting that article! laugh
Posted by: MsFriz

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/20/09 05:48 AM

Thanks for the article and comments. Good food for thought!
Posted by: RJH

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/20/09 08:38 AM

DD5 has always been like that. I just chalked it up to her having a mostly cloudy personality....never thought it could be a gifted thing. Hmmmm. I try to just not argue with her. She will say the sky in not blue, too. Or about how a word in pronounced. Or the name of a rare animal.

My in-laws are the worst though. Ugh! They will argue with her until she backs down. Drives me nuts! I mean seriously, why would you "need to win" an argument with a little kid?
Posted by: Artana

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/20/09 09:01 AM

My older son won't back down. At 7, he is very contrary. It all depends how you approach him though.
Posted by: Katelyn'sM om

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/20/09 07:24 PM

Originally Posted By: HoosierMommy
Wow, this sounds like DD3. There have been several times I've looked out the window and said, "Oh, it's raining outside," and she'll insist it's not raining. My favorite is when she tells me the sky isn't blue after I've commented on how nice and blue the sky is on any given day. I told my mother she's going to be a lawyer.


Hehe ... okay the sky is blue comment I just can't resist this one. The famous question "Why is the sky blue?" has my standard answer of it isn't blue. Technically it is all colors absorb with the blue shade reflected back. (And yes this works on all objects) so when your daughter is arguing that it isn't blue she is correct. <evil grin>
Posted by: Katelyn'sM om

Re: How to handle a stubborn, argumentative contrarian - 04/20/09 07:42 PM

CAMom,

Thank you so much for the article. It really is an interesting read. My 2 1/2 year old is already on her way and has been driving me nuts the last few weeks with what I call her negotiation tactics. Today it was cheese and her need for it. She insisted that she needed a slice of swiss cheese so I gave her a slice. Once done she said Now I need a slice of the other one. I argued she already had a slice but she came back with yes the swiss but not the other one. And besides she needs two slices. So I gave her the American cheese and she ate that piece and said she now needed the swiss ... Okay you already had the swiss cheese. Yes mommy (her response) but I didn't have two slices of the swiss. Great logic there with the fact that I gave in to two slices then she could argue it really meant two slices of each type. Yea ... I didn't give in to that thought process.

But the point is she is constantly finding an angle and negotiating at 2 1/2. I pity myself in a few years. But the article is very helpful in how I handle her negotiations.