How to stop yourself from arguing with your children (or anyone that you love)

“I love you too much to argue.”

Having spent a few moments last Friday afternoon locked in Grace’s room to give myself space from Keener, I knew something needed to change. He was acting completely hyper and out of control and the more upset I became, the more he seemed to be enjoying himself.

The interesting thing was that he wasn’t angry, he was elated. He was throwing things, catapulting his body on the bed, and running around the house at full speed. The more I tried to rein him in, the more his engine zoomed.

I tried staying calm. I tried getting upset. And then I tried giving myself space. For my own mental state, I knew I *needed* to take some space away from him. (To which he went downstairs to get a maraca and a tambourine and started playing them outside of the door). Since I was alone, I couldn’t help but laugh at this attempt for my attention, even though I was still raging from how many times he had not listened in the 10 minutes prior.

On Monday, I remembered a new approach from Are My Kids On Track? and it was amazing how quickly it diffused a situation that was quickly turning south. During this challenging moment, Keener was in his room and asked for help changing his clothes after quiet time. He was incredibly distracted by many toys and books and I found myself repeating my direction over and over, trying to stay calm but inevitability becoming frustrated. Keener, come and get your shirt on. Keener, shirt. Keener it’s time to get dressed. You just asked for help.

Instead of then going down the, “I said… Did you hear me? Do I have to ask you again?” rabbit hole, I decided to take a different approach. I simply said, “Keener, I love you too much to get upset over your clothes. I’m going to take a break.”

He looked at me with big eyes and quickly said, “I’m ready to get dressed! Please don’t go!”

Language Examples

That same book, Are My Kids On Track? has given me many tools, ideas, and language examples that have helped me respond (not react), including this one. The following examples are also mentioned in the book:

  • “I love you too much to argue. You and I both need a break.”
  • “Let’s take 15 minutes and then regroup once we’ve had chance to calm down.”
  • “I don’t want to say something I’ll regret because my brain is flooded right now, and I know yours is, as well. I’m going on a short walk (or to my room) and I’d encourage you to do what you need to do, and then we’ll circle back tonight.”

While I haven’t tried using a line like this with others who I love, I can see how beautifully it would work. It puts the love between the two people at the forefront, therefore instantly diffusing the argument. Even if the other person doesn’t stop arguing, a one sided argument isn’t all that fun, or sustainable.

Try it next time you feel yourself getting upset. When you open your mouth to give another direction, simply say “I love you too much…” and then name what is going on. For little kids, I felt “argue” may not be the best word choice but perhaps naming what you are doing would work even better. For example, I love you too much…

  • to nag you about cleaning up your toys
  • to repeat myself over and over
  • for me to keep yelling
  • for me to raise my voice

In the season of Thanksgiving, it’s important to remind ourselves to show our love to those we love the most (even when they aren’t listening).

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