by Maureen Denard
Developmentally children of a younger age will never be able to argue logically. However, kids will learn what works and what doesn’t. Trying to teach them how to argue logically will help them in school debate as well as every other public office where they might have to argue their point. It will probably even save you a few gray hairs in the process. Check out 10 ways to teach your child to argue logically.
- Explain what logic means: Start out by explaining what it means to be logical. Give examples where you say, “I want chocolate cake for breakfast because it looks good”. Or a more logical argument would be to say, “Chocolate cake is a great breakfast food item because it contains eggs that are protein and milk that’s dairy.”
- Catch them being illogical: The kids are fighting in the backseat of the car because your youngest son thinks his older brother is hogging the backseat. You ask your younger son to try to persuade his brother to move over. He says, “I can’t he’s just a hog”. So you then say, “So your argument is that you deserve more space in the backseat because your brother is a hog?” Once you show them what they are saying they will start to see how they aren’t being logical.
- Teach by showing: During an argument listen to what they are saying and then ask them to make their case. Repeat what they are saying and point out the holes in their logic. Then show them how they could make a stronger argument.
- Define the difference between fighting and arguing: When you ‘fight’ you make contact with the other person be it with your body or with some sort of weapon. Tell them you will not tolerate fighting, but arguing is okay. If you argue you need to keep your voice down and make logical points as to why you are right and the other person is wrong.
- Show them how persuasion plays a role: When arguing your point you need to be persuasive. To be persuasive you have to be conscious of the person’s point of view and explain why you believe your way to be better while not insulting the other person’s view point. Point out facts that will logically show your way is superior to their way.
- Be sympathetic: Let your child know that sympathy is always a great tool to use in an argument. Making statements like, “I understand you like to watch Sponge Bob and I enjoy him too, but the season finale of Witches of Waverly Place is on and it’s not a rerun.” Using instances like this that they will understand will help to further their learning process.
- Explain what it means to win an argument: Some children will just use force to get their way. Tell your child that winning an argument means that they have successfully changed their opponent’s mind so that now they agree with them. If they get their way by hitting their opponent ask them if they think they changed that person’s mind. If the answer is no, then they didn’t win the argument.
- Reward them when they are logical: Once your child learns how to argue logically you need to let them win on occasion. If your child comes to you and explains that they would like to have a dog because owning a dog will teach them to be more responsible, give them exercise by walking the dog and will save you from having to entertain them because they will play with the dog, they have made a very good argument. It’s persuasive, it’s logical, and it shows sympathy for your time spent entertaining them. If you can’t do a dog try to let them have another pet that will achieve the same results.
- Dock them when they aren’t logical: There will still be times when they come crying to you or they start yelling at their sibling. When you need to play referee you need to side with the child that isn’t breaking the rules of good arguing. Make sure you let them know that they didn’t get to have their way because they yelled, hit, or drug up some nasty drama from the past. You can call it ‘hitting below the belt’ or ‘strikes’ or ‘fouls’. Whatever you decide to use will be fine.
- Help them see the big picture: If you are watching something on TV you can ask the kids to point out whether that argument is persuasive or not. Did that commercial convince you that you need to buy that toy?
You’ll be surprised how good your kids get at being persuasive and arguing logically. While it will help them throughout their lives keep in mind that it will also mean that you will probably lose more arguments than you win. And that’s okay.