Q. My 14 year old son argues a lot even for petty things. How to deal him?

Answered by
Dr. Suresh Kumar G D
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Nov 10, 2019

Hello doctor,

My son is 14 years old. He is a bright and loving person, but he argues a lot even for petty things like brushing his teeth, if he is asked not to read an 1100 page book in one stretch, or prepare for a test. He will argue to limits. He would lie, distort facts, cheat, would do anything to win an argument. He will think about how to get to his target. He cannot withstand anything against his will. How to deal with him?

Dr. Suresh Kumar G D

Child Health Paediatrics Psychiatry


Welcome to icliniq.com.

You are describing your son's oppositional behavior in specific contexts when he is asked to do things against his will.

Has your son always been like this arguing a lot or did he develop this behavior recently in the teenage years?

Does he argue at school with his teachers and friends?

If this behavior started early and pervasive across all situations it may be more entrenched and will take more effort to shift.

Sometimes at this age, children tend to struggle with adhering to parental rules and the desire to do things as per their wishes. It is important to help them find the right balance without causing much hostility.

Some general strategies can help in these situations.

1) Spend more quality time with your son. Playing together and having fun helps.

2) Talk regularly about his feelings, aspirations and how he is managing things. Teach him gradually that he need not win all the time. Try to reinforce positive values.

3) Discuss about unacceptable behavior like lying and cheating. Try to avoid a blaming stance but make it clear that manipulating behaviour is not welcome.

4) Have realistic expectations that children will not be perfect all the time. All children breach rules and boundaries. Try to ignore petty arguments but be firm and consistent with significant issues. As the saying goes choose your battles wisely.

5) All elders in the family (you, your wife and grandparents) have to be uniform and consistent with rules with your son. If problems persist and affecting your son some emotionally, counseling can be considered.

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