Amanda’s mom couldn’t believe the incredibly hurtful words pouring out of her 13-year old daughter’s mouth.
“Mom, you’re so lame! You know almost NOTHING about contemporary American architecture!”
Mom could not resist the temptation to defend her delicate ego against such a hurtful accusation: “Amanda!” she gasped, “How could you say such a thing?! You know I have the Frank Lloyd Wright books on my nightstand! You know I study them carefully every night!”
Sound far-fetched? That’s because it is. The truth is that kids won’t accuse us of things we wouldn’t care to defend. When they want to argue, they tend to accuse adults of things that would be hurtful - if they were true:
“You don’t love me! You don’t care!”
“You’re not fair! You love _____ more than me!”
“You’re not nice (or cool) like [other adult]!” “You want to ruin my life!”
And so on. Wise parents recognize these manipulative words for what they are – tantalizing bait. They also realize the last thing they want to do is bite – and get hooked.
Many parents have had success with these tips for neutralizing kids’ attempts to start manipulative arguments:
Remember, Love and Logic adults save discussions for when they are calm, productive and bait-free.