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Arguments solve nothing. The longer an argument continues the more anger builds on both sides, and the less reasonable either can become. This is true with children also. Listening to counter arguments then attempting to apply reason during a heated discussion produce children who grow up feeling unappreciated or unreasonable and who become skilled at arguing.

The only way to diffuse an argument with your child is to end it quickly. Do this by stating your position, repeating it (if necessary), then disengaging yourself from the discussion. By doing this, you let your child know that your mind is made up and no amount of whining will change it.

Sometimes, specific situations require specialized responses.

NEGOTIATING WITH PICKY EATERS

Children will do anything to avoid eating what they don't like. They will attempt to negotiate the amount they need to eat. If you make a counter offer, you are leaving the issue open for discussion. State your position and end the discussion.

YOU'RE ACCUSED OF BEING UNFAIR

The worst thing a child can say is, "That's not fair," then tell you why. Many parents feel guilty and reconsider or try to justify it. It's impossible to be totally fair all the time---and it's not necessary. As long as you know you are as fair as you can be, trust yourself to make a quick decision. But the issue in these situations isn't fairness. It's what you want the child to do. Attempting to justify it, shifts the argument away from what he or she must do. That's what needs to be focused on.

YOU'RE BUSY, BUT THE KIDS ARE BORED.

When kids pester you about being bored, your tendency is to find something for them to do. It doesn't hurt to offer suggestions, but they're not usually helpful. Kids need to learn to find things to do. This teaches them to think for themselves.

FIGHTS BETWEEN SIBLINGS

There are two ways to handle fights: let the kids work it out themselves or let the parent do it. Unless there's a risk of physical harm, don't take sides---ever---and don't judge disagreements either. Get them to stop, sit down and talk it out. The other solution is to end in such a way that both children lose. That way, they will learn the limits of how far they can push each other.

YOUR CHILD SAYS, "I HATE YOU."

This one stings when uttered in the heat of battle, but try not to take it personally, it's rarely meant that way. Kids are raised now to be outspoken, and sometimes that freedom of speech comes without thought. Children need to feel that their anger toward their parents is not dangerous, that their attachment to you is so secure nothing will result. This also reminds them that such remarks are a part of childhood that can not seriously threaten the world of adults. Tell them that you're sorry they feel that way, but they still need to do what you asked.

There might be times when you can't make a quick decision to end an argument. If you need more time to think, say so. But make it clear you will not listen to further discussion until you have made your decision.

An issue might also come up during an argument that requires more discussion. Save it for a neutral time when you or the kids have nothing to gain or lose by discussing it.