Negotiations with my tweens used to include plenty of eye rolling, whining and nagging. It was clear they needed to learn to express their opinions respectfully and clearly — without all the attitude. Our family's solution? The "Little Lawyer" program, where our tweens' arguing skills are in training.
If one of my tweens wants something or disagrees with his dad and me on a decision we've made, we set a time to hear his respectfully presented case. We help him improve his presentation skills, asking clarifying questions and training him to state his position clearly. We take time to sincerely deliberate over his ideas. In giving a "verdict," we explain our reasoning and let our child know which parts of his arguments have merit. Once the case is heard and the verdict given, the decision is final. If our rules have changed, we outline why. If we're open to re-examining our policy at a later date, we let him know.
Our goal is to foster an environment of mutual respect and to train our tweens to articulate their reasoning. In short, instead of arguing about not arguing, we help them learn to argue well.
This article appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2014 by Danika Cooley. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
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