How many times do you find yourself saying, “It’s so frustrating…my son/daughter has to have the final word?” Usually, this implies an argument is happening, and your child will not accept your answer peacefully.
Parents frequently complain that their kids will not accept a “no.” These same children often will battle and argue over anything and everything. They must have “the final word.” We all know what this sounds like, and it can be remarkably frustrating to try to get kids out of this pattern. This can be particularly frustrating with emerging adolescents who will not relinquish the final word and seem to argue as a favorite pastime.
So, what can you do? There are three simple steps to eliminate this pattern. Forever!
1. Let them have “the final word.”
You might be shaking your head right now, and asking, what is he talking about? I thought the idea here was to get rid of the “final word syndrome.”
That is the goal. But first, we must step into reality. Unless you are prepared to put duct tape over your child’s mouth when they keep talking, you can’t really stop them from having the final word. They can always seize the final word…if they really want it.
Instead of trying to control this moment, your job becomes teaching them that it’s not worth it…to get the final word. I suggest you first begin by thinking of this as a learning process. You just can’t “demand it” and make it happen. You can’t make them learn this lesson; you can only set up your home so that your kids learn that when they push for “the final word”… it will not serve them!
But first, you must start in your own head. Get clear that you are willing to allow them to have the final word (for now), and then determine what to do in order to teach them that it is not the wisest choice. In order to do that, it is essential that…
2. Give no attention or commentary to “the final word!”
Let’s say you have answered a question, and your son or daughter is disagreeing with you. Their “final word” is almost always an attempt to get you to change your mind, or to prove that they are right. They want to win the argument!
Their disagreement is irrelevant in many ways. Once you have stated your position (yes or no), there is no need to explain yourself. You don’t have to justify your decision. There is no need to repeat it…regardless of the final word coming from your child’s lips.
There is no need to explain or respond to… “Why?”, or “How come?”, or “That’s your job.”, or “I don’t want to” or “That’s stupid.”
Give no energy to “the final word.” Don’t give it a look. Don’t give it a sigh. Don’t give it a verbal explanation. Give it no attention. Give it no energy.
For some of you, this will be tough…very tough. But notice, it will be the toughest for those of us who really want the same thing our kids want. They want the final word…and really…I WANT THE FINAL WORD! Think about it: if I am really upset about my son getting in the final word, it’s only because I want exactly what my son wants…the final word! Thus…
3. Your Child or Teen Only Seeks the Final Word When You Seek the Final Word
It’s impossible for your kids to argue with you if you don’t argue back. Children can only argue with parents who argue. Simple.
They aren’t “winning” anything when they are talking to the wind! Just walk away and leave them talking to the wind! And then see what happen after two or three weeks. When you stop investing in “the final word”… your kids will too! Just be patient here.
Once you break this desire (on your part) for the final word, you can now have more choice. You can choose to walk away from most of the small stuff. Next week, we’ll discuss the ‘big stuff’ and what actions may be required. For now, remember: You don’t have to win the argument.