Teaching a kid to participate in an argument without getting angry or riled up is a challenge. Let’s be honest, it’s something most grown-ups find a bit tricky too (just look at rants and trolls on social media). Nevertheless, it is a vitally important skill, and mastering it can give your child an edge at school and in their personal lives.
Believe it or not, a lot of the same rules we teach our kids to help them behave can also be applied to learning to argue effectively. Yes, these rules are also useful for adults.
Here are some examples:
- It’s okay if you don’t know. As Socrates said, the wisest people are the ones who admit they just don’t know. It’s an important starting point for learning. It’s also okay to admit when you’re wrong.
- Try it, you might like it! There are a lot of new ideas out there to be considered, and we need to think about them and test them out before we turn them down. Don’t be scared of perspectives that are different.
- You can’t always get what you want. Wishing something is true doesn’t make it so. Explaining why it’s true, and giving good reasons does.
- No name-calling. Telling someone they’re stinky, short, wearing silly socks, or whatever, doesn’t make them less right. You can challenge an idea without hurting the messenger’s feelings.
- Being loud doesn’t make you right. There’s something to be said for a controlled, civilized discussion, even with little thinkers.
- Cooperate! A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say. An argument isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about working together to find new and useful ideas.
What other rules of conduct do you teach your children that could also help them to be better in arguments?