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13 year old and 'circular' arguments

(26 Posts)
MrsBright Thu 14-Nov-13 19:16:43

How do you deal with the ghastly circular arguments that just go round and round, with daughter trying every tactic to keep it going - blaming anyone else for the 'problem', inventing new bits to throw into the mix, volume raising etc etc? We have had several very angry versions of this over the last week over total trivia which has ended in both me and her father (seperate arguments) loosing our temper and screeching at her.

What the hell do you do to stop this? I just find it so stressful and so pointless - tonight it was about her not leaving school books in the hallway, last week it was about her getting out of bed for school.

I've tried the 'calm voice' and even the steely 'go to your room' tactic , but then she wont take any notice of that either (she's as big as me so strong arm tactics arent feasible) hence the screeching.

What do we DO?

lljkk Thu 14-Nov-13 19:50:57

This probably isn't right I tend to shut it down.
"We've discussed this already so I'm not going to go over it again." type statements.
DH is better at deflecting things with humour.

Sometimes I just let them prattle & say as little as possible in return (odd grunt, taste of their own medicine).

I'm reading a book that says that you just keep drawing the lines in the sand no matter how they trample on them. In the end you may often get half-assed compliance, but it's still a form of compliance because the structure of the request stands intact and they mostly do what you want, however reluctantly.

Palika Thu 14-Nov-13 20:11:11

well, the positive side of this is that she is exercising her persuasion skills (however unskilled she is). See it at that and also tell her so and it is only half as bad.

Then, next step, put down some ground rules: ours are - no repeating arguments twice, no angry voice. Then it's even better.

You can also try the 'we'll talk about it after dinner' - chances are she is not in the mood any more.

MissMiniTheMinx Thu 14-Nov-13 20:17:46

When she left the school books in the hallway, what did you say to her? How did you say it? Did you sound even in tone, gruff, angry, pissed off or stressed? said with some humour almost as though its inevitable or made a half joke/tongue in cheek comment? I think so much depends on the very first thing that is said in any communication, everything else leads from that.

mathanxiety Thu 14-Nov-13 20:25:33

Same as Lljkk. It takes two to keep an argument going. Bite down hard on your tongue.

Pick your battles.
Sit down when she's not around and try to write a list of things the two of you have fought over in the past while. Try to categorise the items - for instance, lack of tidiness, and ask yourself if there's a pattern. What pushes your buttons, and why?

Ask yourself if she needs help getting organised and if this could be accomplished in a way that seemed to give her some control over the outcome - ask her to come up with a workable plan for storage of her belongings.

Couch the problem in neutral terms - 'leaving your books/clothes/empty mugs in X or Y place isn't working in our house because others need to hoover/drink coffee/decide what needs a wash, and this is too difficult when your books are in the way/mugs are impossible to find/clothes are scattered on the floor. She needs to suggest a solution.

If she digs in and refuses to acknowledge that anything she does is a problem, then start picking her things up and hiding them, and make her buy them back or give them back one week after you take them.

She should be doing her own laundry and should be responsible for a family meal once a week, as well as loading and emptying the dishwasher or doing the washing up in its entirety a few days a week - this will make her conscious of processes around the house and give her a sense of contributing. However, her contribution should not be presented to her as some sort of punishment but as a positive invitation to take on responsibility appropriate to her age that her family will appreciate.

If she doesn't get out of bed for school then let her be late. If she has an alarm clock then she should be using it. You should not have to wheedle a teenager out of bed.

'How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk' is a great book that might allow you to dissect what is going on and see a way forward.

louby44 Thu 14-Nov-13 21:31:42

Just walk away and lock yourself in the bathroom with a book! That's what I do.

wakemeupnow Fri 15-Nov-13 07:06:27

having experienced lots of similar battles, I now say my piece clearly one time ,then stop talking no matter how much Dc try to wind me up or draw me in.

I no longer tell them to get out or go to their room as it makes them feel powerful to refuse, instead I walk out myself.

If they refused to do a task, like pick up a school bag from the hall, I would wait until they want something or it's a meal time and then say the task needs to be completed before...

bigTillyMint Fri 15-Nov-13 07:18:54

OP, this sounds horribly familiar. I try to do the calm voice/humour if I can muster it! Broken record stuff. Talking to them about the problem when they are in a good mood, maybe outside of the house - trying to get them to see my POV and reach an agreement. I think it's par for the course with teenssad

mathanxiety, I am genuinely interested to know how you manage your teen doing their own laundry. Do they not end up with very (non-eco-friendly) loads of whites/coloureds/darks? Plus how do they plan/fit it in around the families stuff?

nooka Fri 15-Nov-13 07:38:57

My teens do their own washing. I wasn't at all sure about it, and would have preferred them to help with washing as a family, but it does have it's pluses as it is entirely their own responsibility if something is not available. They do have regular clothing crisis though. dh tells them when the washing machine is off limits, and they ask each other/us if they have a small load.

ds and I tend to argue a fair bit, and we both go too far. We tried a code word for a while but we tend to be a bit overly competitive about winning arguments so it's not entirely worked.

wakemeupnow Fri 15-Nov-13 07:47:05

I told my ds' that they would have to wash all their own clothes over the summer holidays... I think the machine went on once and the rest 0f the time they just recycled confused

bigTillyMint Fri 15-Nov-13 08:05:08

wakemeupgrin I fear that is what mine would do too!
nooka, did you have a family meeting about it to start off with or did you just tell them?

nooka Fri 15-Nov-13 08:09:53

It was part of transitioning from dh being a SAHD, so over the summer they did it together, and then when he started work it was one of their responsibilities. We sat down and told them how things would be really. They got an allowance in return. It's not been that big a deal really.

This weekend ds refused to get dressed on the basis of having no clothes (he ran out of underwear) but it doesn't usually get quite that acute!

nooka Fri 15-Nov-13 08:10:31

It probably helps that their school doesn't have a uniform.

bigTillyMint Fri 15-Nov-13 09:38:29

nooka, that sounds perfect (apart from the not getting dressed!) Mine do have a uniform and do a lot of sport, so there is a lot of washing that just HAS to be done at the right time. The fall-out in our house (given their personalities!) would be horrendous if it wasn't all ready.

I think I will give it a go when they get to sixthform age - the added incentive of an extra bit of allowance might do the trick!

lljkk Fri 15-Nov-13 10:11:44

well, the positive side of this is that she is exercising her persuasion skills

that part is half-comforting in the middle of the aggro! I agree it's nice to know my kids know how to stand up for themselves. Also, at least they are talking. When they stop arguing is when they just sneak behind your back & do bad stuff anyway. Arguing is actually a sign of respect, or so I've read...confused

MrsBright Fri 15-Nov-13 10:30:25

Thanks for the words folks.

I've realised we have to go back to toddler-tactics in many ways - dont argue back, dont get sucked in (stop trying to 'win') and dont provide a willing audience.

She couldnt find her phone this morning, got furious with me because wouldnt help (so lots of 'where have YOU hidden it Mum' etc) and I just walked off. She found it in her bag of course.

Lots more 'walking away' and not letting her play to the gallery seems to be the way to go.

bigTillyMint Fri 15-Nov-13 10:36:58

Yes, it is definitely all about toddler tactics! It is hard thoughsmile

throckenholt Fri 15-Nov-13 11:37:51

I generally say I am not arguing about it - I am telling you. Or I am not arguing - just do it.

If I am in a good mood I will defuse with humour (or tickling still works with mine).

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Fri 15-Nov-13 16:58:45

Totally agree with the don't raise your voice/don't get drawn in replies.

Another tactic is to say you can't listen now, too busy, but write it all down and you'll read it later. Neither of mine have ever found it important enough to go to the bother of writing it!

prettybird Fri 15-Nov-13 17:17:55

Good thread. I need to try some of the approaches suggested.

Currently having problems with 13 year old ds who manages to wind me up while I am trying to help him by complaining about things that I'm doing are according to him wrong.

I was only trying to put credit onto his phone.....

I have now apologized to him for getting angry at his attitude - but he is effectively now grounded as he is not allowed out without credit on his phone...... I shouldn't grin. He'll also now need to use his own pocket money to buy a voucher.

JohnnyUtah Fri 15-Nov-13 17:25:06

Yes a lot if it is not needing to win every argument. Teenagers like to moan. Half the time they know they are being unreasonable, they just can't stop themselves. Say it once, then stop talking to them - an argument can only be circular if you keep engaging in it. They won't stop, so you have to.

lljkk Fri 15-Nov-13 17:27:55

book I've been reading basically says don't try to fix their character defects (like being lazy & disrespectful), focus instead on the primary issue & that it will have to happen regardless of their protests (but don't engage with their protest excuses, either).

nooka Sat 16-Nov-13 01:39:40

Oh the grumpiness when you are trying to do things for them! Especially things that bring benefit to them and them alone! I guess it's the same sort of frustration as toddlers get though, a mark of transition from one stage to another.

mathanxiety Sat 16-Nov-13 07:23:37

BigTillyMint -- The beauty of it is they manage it themselves, and they only have themselves to blame if such and such an outfit is still lying under a pile of dirty socks the day they want to wear it.

They do a warm wash and cold rinse and throw everything they have in together, and then it all goes in the dryer. My priority is teaching them self reliance/independence/good habits and taking responsibility for their own lives, plus giving them the gift of the sort of self esteem that comes from competence, and reducing the amount I have to do. My DCs are all teens now (12 and 15 yos are the only ones left at home) and at the moment there are three of us at home, but that changes in summer and at Easter and Christmas when two older ones come home. They all do a load when their basket is full, so every third day or so. I also do a load every third day-ish. Everyone does a load a day and some days my family uses the machine at least twice.

If they need sport stuff washed for the next day then that can piggyback in each other's wash or in mine. One has a school uniform and the other doesn't. The uniform skirt gets washed frequently (maybe twice a week). It's made of some kind of indestructible polyester that drip dries overnight - the quintessential American RC school plaid skirt. They grew up in a culture that places a high value on personal hygiene. None of them would get away with not taking a daily shower from age 9 onwards, and going to school with clothes that had any kind of a whiff would be unthinkable.

We not only have family washing to negotiate, there are neighbours upstairs and downstairs who all use the washing machine and dryer, and often there is a queue in the laundry room, so they have learned the laundry equivalent of 'first up best dressed'. I think this is a good training for them for when they go off to university and will be contending with hundreds of others for laundry facilities. I know one of the neighbours is using the washing machine because my water pressure dwindles to a trickle when the machine is filling sad...

Another (unforeseen) benefit of having them do their own washing is that they now check washing instructions when they go shopping, and tend to put back 'bargains' that have to be hand washed or dried flat or ironed as they now realise what a faff that is for the person doing the laundry.

bigTillyMint Sat 16-Nov-13 07:47:05

mathanxiety, sounds like you've got them really well organised!

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