Arguing by children with reactive attachment disorder: a powerful approach to stopping it

One of the endearing behaviors of children with reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is their love of arguing. Oh, those kids will argue about anything. If you say green, they say red. If you tell them to take out the trash, they will give you all the reasons you can think of and more about why they shouldn’t. If you tell them it’s time to do a strong sit, they can think of a thousand reasons why they shouldn’t do that strong sit. Whatever it is, they’ll find a way to argue with you.

A RAD boy described his fondness for arguing like this. He said it was like fishing. He cast the hook to see if Mom would bite and then he could catch her. If Mom told him to do something, he would argue to see if she would take the bait and respond. If she answered, he would argue again and so on. The Goal: As with the other water torture behaviors we’ve discussed in previous articles, the RAD child aims for control and power.

Before we move on to looking for a different and effective way to handle the arguing child and stay in control, we want to see what could be good in the discussion. I know it sounds like a silly proposition, and after you take a moment to think about it, you might conclude that you may find a positive attribute or two about the discussion. I guess you’ve thought about it a bit and came up with something. Here are a few that I have thought of. Arguing can demonstrate quick thinking, a high level of confidence, and determination. Certainly, the one who argues has a lot of strength.

Now that we can see that there may be something positive in your child’s discussion, let’s see how you can stay in control and stop the discussion. It’s actually pretty simple: don’t take the bait. Stay in your theme. Your job is to ask questions to keep the conversation on track. So after telling Sweetums to do something, Sweetums will obviously, as always, argue: it’s not fair, it’s not my turn, you’re bad (my personal favorite), you don’t love me, or you’re always picking one myself. No, no, don’t answer. Instead, ask a question, such as “What do I want you to do?” Repeat the same question continuously while Sweetums continues to bait you until Sweetums stops pulling the hook. Key to this whole scenario: your voice should remain calm and assertive and not increase in volume or anger each time the hook is thrown. Participate in this process often enough and the discussion will slow down significantly, if not stop completely. The one in control is the one asking the questions.

So what could happen in the future of an arguing child? How could you use your adult arguing skills? Did any of the following professions come to mind? Lawyer, politician, salesperson, or school teacher all require quick thinking, confidence, determination, and a lot of sharpness. Yes dear there it is hope for the RAD child expert in discussion.

How do you handle your arguing child? Do you get the result you want? Have you asked questions instead of answering your child’s pleas and questions? How has that worked for you? Please let me know what you have done and your thoughts with an email. I hope to hear from you.

We’ve addressed the five most common irritating behaviors of our precious RAD kids in this series on water torture and ways to change things effectively. There are many others, some of which are too familiar to you. In the future, I will address the ones on my blog. If there are any you want me to write about please let me know in an email and I will be happy to accommodate them.

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