There is nothing wrong with arguing. It’s HOW you argue that matters.
The skill to get hot without getting mad — to have a good argument that doesn’t become personal — is critical in life. But it’s one that few parents teach to their children. We want to give kids a stable home, so we stop siblings from quarreling and we have our own arguments behind closed doors. Yet if kids never get exposed to disagreement, we’ll end up limiting their creativity.
If we rarely see a spat, we learn to shy away from the threat of conflict. Witnessing arguments — and participating in them — helps us grow a thicker skin. We develop the will to fight uphill battles and the skill to win those battles, and the resilience to lose a battle today without losing our resolve tomorrow.
It’s a sign of respect to care enough about someone’s opinion that you’re willing to challenge it.
We can also help by having disagreements openly in front of our kids. Most parents hide their conflicts: They want to present a united front, and they don’t want kids to worry. But when parents disagree with each other, kids learn to think for themselves. They discover that no authority has a monopoly on truth. They become more tolerant of ambiguity. Rather than conforming to others’ opinions, they come to rely on their own independent judgment.
…teaching kids how to have healthy disagreements. We can start with four rules:
• Frame it as a debate, rather than a conflict.
• Argue as if you’re right but listen as if you’re wrong.
• Make the most respectful interpretation of the other person’s perspective.
• Acknowledge where you agree with your critics and what you’ve learned from them.