Written by Doctor G

Arguing with Adults

My 7 year old thinks he knows everything!  There is not a topic in the world that this kid won’t argue about.  This really looks bad at church, when we stay for a little while after the service we find him eavesdropping on grown up conversations and then arguing with the adults who were talking!  I guess I like that he is comfortable talking to adults but I can’t seem to convince him that he doesn’t know as much as adults do.

Mary Pat, in Red Rock, TX

A: This is a hard lesson for a lot of kids.

First:  He has to learn to stay out of a conversation that he wasn’t invited into.

Is he bored after church?  Or has he gotten some positive feedback for being precocious?  This happens to outgoing kids, and it gives them the (usually correct) idea that adults like to see them “perform.”  The problem is that they like the attention and don’t know how and when to stop.  Usually, the behavior that is adorable at age 4 – “she grabbed the microphone and started to sing during the concert, how cute” – is less adorable at age 7 and downright annoying by age 10.

You may be able to talk to him about the attention he wants and find some constructive ways to get it.   Are children involved at all in leading parts of the service in your church?  Or could he help out in a children’s room or service with kids who are younger?  Could he help with a service project that your church is doing?  It’s great that he wants attention and praise from the adults in your church – help him channel that.

Second: He needs the skills to enter a conversation respectfully.

We all need to learn this.  This is like knowing how to start jumping in a moving jump rope, it takes some practice.  It will serve him well as a teen and an adult to be able to gracefully enter a conversation.  Talk to him about eye contact, waiting your turn.  Teach him some gentle introductory phrases like “that is interesting” or “I learned about that at school.” Let him practice on you and another adult.

Third and most important issue: It doesn’t matter if he knows more about a topic than adults, he has to learn to express his opinion without being disrespectful, or not express it at all.

You may never convince him that he doesn’t know as much as adults do.  That doesn’t actually matter.  What matters is how he says it.  We have a child who wants to argue a lot.  We have taught him this rule:

You may never start a sentence to an adult with “But” or “No…” He may start a disagreeing sentence with “Oh.  I thought…”

Let me know if it works for your son!



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