One sure fire way to invite a debate or more likely a verbal battle is to ask your child a question when you want them to do something.

It usually goes something like this:

Your child is watching TV or is on the computer and it’s almost bedtime. You want him/her to take a bath before it gets too late to be ready for bed at a reasonable time.

P “why don’t you take your shower?”

C “I’ll do it later.”

P “It’s getting late.”

C “I’m almost done.”

P “You have school tomorrow.”

C “This is important.”

P “School is more important.”

On and on it goes!

Are you ready to scream yet?

If you noticed, the child was never told to take a shower or anything else for that matter, therefore inviting an endless discussion.

Parents very often have this misguided belief that if their child doesn’t do what they want them to do, it’s because they just didn’t understand. That is why they get into these endless discussions, explaining the same thing over and over again, just using different words with each explanation.

The expectation is that ultimately you will find the magical combination of words and your child will turn around and say “Oh! Now I get it. You want me to take my shower now. That way I can get to bed early, get enough sleep, pay attention in school, get great grades, get a scholarship to college, make tons of money and take care of you when I’m rich.”

Don’t hold your breath! Be realistic and settle for them getting to bed on time. Also, these never ending discussions are not about misunderstandings, they are about disagreements. In this example, you want your child to take a shower and they don’t want to. You are not avoiding the conflict of wanting them to do something that they don’t want to by asking them a question.

The icing on the cake is your child is trying to avoid the same conflict by going on with endless explanations rather than just saying that they just don’t want to take a shower, now or maybe forever. Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

To avoid this whole mess on a daily basis and in many situations, make rules and schedules. Make sure that there are reasonable consequences for not complying and a lot of appreciative hugs and kisses for being responsible.