6 Keys to Teach Children to Argue

When we teach children to argue, this helps them to resolve conflicts, improve their reasoning, and achieve success. Learn more.
6 Keys to Teach Children to Argue
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 07 May, 2023

Communication is the basis of all human relationships, but it doesn’t always consist of simply sharing information. There are many everyday situations that involve convincing, negotiating, expressing opinions, and reaching agreements. Knowing how to do this in an appropriate way is fundamental to achieving success on a personal, social, and professional level. Therefore, we want to remind you of how important it is to teach children to argue.

This skill improves as children grow older, mature cognitively, and have more opportunities to practice. However, some children have a greater innate ability than other children their age, due to their more advanced language skills. Despite this, all of them can hone their social skills and achieve great results. This learning should be encouraged at home and at school.

Take note of these keys in order to teach children to argue

The family is the main socializing agent, and the dynamics observed here will be those that will set the guidelines for the child’s future behavior. For the same reason, you must make sure that the way you communicate with your child and the example you offer them when interacting with other people reflect the values and behaviors you wish to transmit to them. To do this, you can pay attention to the following aspects.

1. Offer arguments

When you try to motivate an infant to perform a certain action, phrases such as “because I said so” or “because I’m your mother” aren’t enough. On the contrary, it’s important to explain the reasons behind our requests.

Similarly, when they try to persuade us on an issue, it’s very positive to ask them what the reasons are that lead them to think that way. This helps them to structure their ideas and be able to present them more clearly.

A mother and daughter sitting on a bed, conversing.
It’s important to talk to children, listen to them, and ask them what the reasons are that lead them to think in a certain way.

2. Be respectful

It’s important to remember that arguing isn’t synonymous with fighting and that the objective shouldn’t be “winning” or imposing our opinions. For an argument to be productive, a common point should be sought and the interlocutor should always be addressed with respect. Whoever loses form loses reason. In this regard, disagreeing or being angry doesn’t give us the right to hurt or attack another person.

3. Listen

When teaching children to argue, we must also teach them to listen. We need to know the opinion of the other party and their requests in order to be able to negotiate. For this, it’s essential that from an early age, we give children room to express themselves.

If you ignore your child when they speak, belittle their ideas, or make them understand that their opinions aren’t valuable because of their young age, it’s likely that when they grow up, they won’t know how to apply active listening either.

4. Manage emotions

Sometimes, discussions upset us and generate intense negative emotions. In these states, we’re not able to express ourselves clearly or reach agreements. We may even utter inappropriate words against the other person. So, try to teach your children simple techniques to keep themselves under control so that they can calm down before responding. And, of course, be sure to apply this guideline yourself as well.

5. Be assertive

Assertive communication is very useful when we have to communicate our wishes and opinions to another person, especially if they differ from yours. To help children apply it, we can encourage them to follow these steps:

  • Speak from what you feel, rather than attacking what the other person has done.
  • State your arguments with concrete examples.
  • Make clear requests about what you want.
  • Highlight the benefit that both people can obtain if an agreement is reached.
A mother and her young daughter lying in bed, talking.
It’s important for children to see that adults are interested in listening to them and that we respect their turn to speak.

6. Practice regularly

Like any skill, the ability to argue needs to be practiced frequently in order to be perfected. For the same reason, at school and at home, we must offer children opportunities for debate. While you eat together as a family, you can suggest a topic of conversation and allow everyone to present their points of view.

When we teach children to argue, we help them succeed

Teaching your children to argue is a daily task that requires paying some attention to your own behaviors and to the dynamics at home. Listening, respect, calmness, and assertiveness aren’t always easy to apply and maintain. Remember that these teachings will allow you to forge a healthier bond with your children and maintain a better family environment.

You’ll also provide them with valuable tools. From resolving conflicts with their classmates to achieving success in a future job, argumentative skills will be the key to their success.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Alzate, O. E. T. (2012). La argumentación como constituyente del pensamiento crítico en niños. Hallazgos9(17), 211-233.
  • Camps, A., & Dolz, J. (1995). Enseñar a argumentar: un desafío para la escuela actual. CL & E: Comunicación, lenguaje y educación, (26), 5-8.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.