Arguing by Children With Reactive Attachment Disorder – A Powerful Approach to Stop It

Arguing by Children With Reactive Attachment Disorder – A Powerful Approach to Stop It

One of the endearing behaviors of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is their love of argument. 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 every reason you can imagine plus some more about why they should not do it. If you tell them it is time to do a strong sit, they can come up with a thousand reasons why they should not do that strong sit. You name it, they will find a way to argue with you.

One RAD child described his fondness for arguing like this. He said that it was like fishing. He threw out the bait to see if Mom would bite and then he could reel her in. If Mom told him to do something, he would argue to see if she would take the bait and respond. If she responded, he would argue right back and so on. The goal: just like with the other water torture behaviors we have discussed in previous articles, the RAD child aims for control and power.

Before going on to look at a different and effective way to handle the arguing kid and to remain in control, we want to look at what might be good about arguing. I know that sounds like a silly proposition, and after you take a moment to think about it, you might conclude that you can find a positive attribute or two about arguing. I assume that you have given it some thought and have come up with something. Here are some that I have thought of. Arguing can demonstrate quick thinking, a high level of confidence, and determination. Certainly the one doing the arguing has a lot of backbone.

Now that we can see that there might be something positive in your child arguing, let’s look at how you can retain control and stop the arguing. It is really quite simple: don’t take the bait. Stay on your subject. Your job is to ask questions to keep the conversation on track. So, after telling sweetums to do something, sweetums obviously, as always, will argue: it’s not fair, it’s not my turn, you’re mean (my personal favorite), you don’t love me, or you’re always picking on me. Do not, do not, do not respond. Instead ask a question, such as, “What do I want you to do?” Repeat the same question continually as sweetums keeps throwing bait at you until sweetums stops throwing the bait. Key to this entire scenario: your voice must remain calm and assertive and not increase in volume or anger each time the bait is thrown. Engage in this process often enough and the arguing will significantly decrease if not stop altogether. The one in control is the one who asks the questions.

What, then, might be in the future of an arguing child? How might they use their arguing skills as adults? Did any of the following professions come to mind? Attorney, politician, salesperson, or school teacher all require quick thinking, confidence, determination, and a lot of backbone. Yes, my dear, there is hope for the RAD child skilled in arguing.

How do you handle your arguing child? Do you get the result you want? Have you asked questions rather than respond to 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 look forward to hearing from you.

We have addressed the five most prevalent irritating behaviors of our precious RAD children in this series about water tortures and ways to effectively turn things around. There are many others, some of which are all too well known to you. In the future I will be addressing those in 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 oblige.