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Dear Dr. Debra,


I have three children whom I home school. My oldest son is in eighth grade. Heís a very argumentative boy. Some of it seems like his personality. But lately heís wearing me out with all the debating. He likes to discuss politics, and Iíve tried telling him he needs to look up the facts first, not just let loose with his opinions. Iíve recently given up on the idea of home schooling him through high school, and told him that next year, Iím sending him to our local Lutheran High School. But in the meantime I need some suggestions on how to handle him.


A Frustrated Mother


Dear Frustrated Mother,


Helping your child develop negotiating skills is important. However, your son already sounds gifted in this area. Perhaps he will grow up to be a lawyer or politician, where his debating skills will be valued. But until that time, you have to find the energy to both be a parent and a teacher to him.

Start by setting limits on issues on which you donít intend to budge. Say, ďThis is not open to debate.Ē But at other times, be willing to listen to his opinion and allow for a compromise.


Iíd give him a forum for his political debating. Pick a night where he can give his own presidential debate. The family can be his audience. Tell him in order to give his speech, he first needs to do his research. Arrange a ďpodiumĒ for him so he feels like an actual candidate.  


Then listen to his philosophies, and applaud when he is finished. If anyone chooses to counter any of his points, he or she must go to the ďpodiumĒ and respectfully disagree. 


In the meantime, if he tries to argue politics with you, remind him he has his scheduled debate time. If he persists, tell him he will lose his performance privilege if he continues arguing.


Iím going to make a larger suggestion that Iíd like you to consider. It might be a good time to send your oldest son to the Lutheran school now, instead of waiting until next year. This would remove you from the role of his teacher and leave you to just be his mother.  If you donít have to do both, you will have more energy in dealing with him and in home schooling your two younger children.


Your son would probably thrive in a private school environment. There he can practice his debating with his teachers and fellow students. Heíll be stimulated, but will also experience losing arguments to others with more knowledge or oratory skill.


Dr. Debra

Feel free to write me with your questions


Debra Holland, Ph.D., is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in relationships and communication techniques.


To read previous 'Ask Dr. Debra' articles, please visit www.wetnoodleposse.com, where Dr. Debra is a regular contributor, or click here to view the archives. Dr. Debra Holland is also a regular contributor to the Wet Noodle Posse Blog.






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