Stop Your Children Arguing and Fighting

By Greg Baer M.D.

April 14, 2020

Do You Hate it When Your Children Argue and Fight?

Learn How to Stop It – Right Now.

   Are you not crazy tired of all that screeching noise as kids argue, fight, and compete over the most ridiculous things? Are you tired of hearing demands and accusations like these:

“Stop it.”  

“I wanted to sit there.”  

“That’s mine.”  

“You ate all the cookies."  

“Stop doing that.”  

“You’re stupid.”  

“You touched me first.”  

“It’s my turn.” 

“I wanted that.”  

“Give me that.”

“Shut up.”  

“That’s not fair.”  

Kids argue so often that it becomes like “normal” background noise, and we tend to just tune it out. But all the while, the arguing and fighting are causing horrifying damage to our children. So, what’s the harm?

How Arguing and Fighting Hurt Your Child

  • Every second they argue, they’re hearing your silent agreement that fighting is okay.
  • They learn that anger and conflict are how you get your way in life. Over a lifetime that belief causes terrible pain and failed relationships.
  • The tension of their arguments fills the house and drives out all the joy.
    Studies show that children raised in a home with contention are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, decreased brain function, problems in school, relationship problems, eating disorders, substance abuse, and health problems. Is that what you want for your kids?
  • They feel less connected to you and more alone.
    Anger generates stress and tension, which eliminates the possibility of their feeling your love, and that love is what they need most. It’s emotionally crippling for a child.
  • Their sense of entitlement grows.
    The more they argue, the more they feel entitled to argue, and in very little time their entitlement makes productive interactions with them impossible.
  • As they continue arguing and fighting with each other, they become more skilled and prepared to turn their fighting skills on you.

How You Can Stop Your Children from Arguing and Fighting – Immediately

You are moments away from these simple but effective steps, but first you need the foundation that must be in place before the steps can work.

A.  Kindness and Love

When they argue and fight, your children are not being “bad.” They’re in emotional pain, and they’re only using the social skills they’ve learned to protect themselves, usually learned from you. If you’re irritated as you address their arguing, you’ll add to their pain and make things worse.

B. Immediate

The arguing and fighting have to STOP—right now. There can be no half-measures with these behaviors. Arguing and fighting can’t CONTINUE if you stop it from even beginning. So, you have to take action within 3-5 seconds of hearing any arguing or fighting.

C. Consistency

You have to act EVERY time you hear arguing or fighting, or your inconsistency will seriously confuse your child.

Stop the Arguing and Fighting in Your Home!

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The Steps that WILL Stop Arguing and Fighting IMMEDIATELY

Step 1: LOVE them

This almost seems counter-intuitive. When children are arguing and fighting, they rarely seem adorable. But remember this (underline it in your head): The whole reason children fight is that they feel like they’re not being listened to, and that somebody is not caring about THEM. That is emotionally very PAINFUL, so they protect themselves by raising their voices—both physically and emotionally—and that’s when simple disagreement becomes anger, arguing, and fighting.

Anger is a way of getting attention and protecting themselves. It’s all they know to do. Just telling them to “stop fighting” is useless. When you remember that they truly do not understand how to behave more productively—just as most adults do not—you become much more compassionate and less likely to be angry.

If you are the slightest bit irritated as you respond to them, they will feel threatened and unloved, and they will likely defend themselves with even more arguing and fighting. In short, there can be no anger from you. Ever. More about that later.

Step 2: LISTEN

The most immediate and powerful way you can communicate that you love your children is to genuinely listen. While they are arguing and fighting, get their attention, so they can see you are not trying to control them but are trying to genuinely listen to them. Without anger, that is very endearing to a child.

How do you get their attention? Hold up your hand. Speak softly. Look them straight in the eye, which creates a measure of instant intimacy. Touch them. Hold their hand.

Now, ASK them what they want. Yes, I know, they’re already screaming what they want, but listen more closely. What they’re really doing is:

  • Aggressively DEMANDING, not genuinely asking, so the other child is forced to defend rather than listen.
  • Mutually accusing each other of some “crime.” That will never get them what they want, and certainly not the love and respect they want even more.
  • Not listening. They’re screaming what they want, but because they’re not listening, the other child increases their own volume in order to be heard. Two screaming children never get what they want, and nobody is happy.

You can change all that when you turn to ONE child and ask, “What do you want here?” Keep going until the child can express it in one simple sentence. Stop them when they say what the other child is doing wrong. No, you’re asking what the child WANTS. This requires the child to focus on a positive goal, instead of attacking the other child.

Then you have the same interaction with the other child.

Step 3: TEACH

Prepare them to be taught. Gesture toward yourself with your hands and say, “Look at me. Listen to me.” Firmly. If you’re tentative, or if you indicate any degree of impatience with their behavior, you will only inflame the situation. I repeat: you cannot be angry. None, or you’ll just add to the fighting.

So what exactly can you teach? You could say something like this (in this order):

  • “What we all want most when we talk with someone is to know that they care about us, which is another way of saying that they love us. That is our NUMBER ONE wish.
  • “Disagreement is not the problem. But when you add ANGER to the mix, then you have arguing and fighting, and everybody loses. So, there will be a new rule in this house, and I will keep the rule too. I have not been keeping this rule, which is MY mistake.

"Here’s the rule:

"You can talk about what you want. You can disagree. But there will be no more anger expressed toward each other.

"If you don’t know what to do with your anger, come and talk to me. But NEVER express your anger at your brother/sister. Never. Why? Because it never WORKS. Never. It destroys what I just said we all want most: to know that someone cares about us, listens to us, loves us."

  • Mimic their sounds and words of anger, whining, victimhood, and all that. Briefly and without mocking. Then ask them, “In the middle of all that noise, will anybody feel loved? Will any disagreement be solved?” They will ALWAYS answer “no,” or at the very least shake their head or drop their head in resigned agreement and embarrassment.
  • Now, Give THEM a chance to solve the argument.

For example—to pick just one of infinite possibilities—you might say, “You (child A) want to play with this toy. You (child B) want to play with the same toy. What you don’t know is that you can BOTH have what you want. Really.”

You say, “Now, I’m going to leave the room for five minutes, and you two will work on how you can make this happen so that you’re both happy with it. Keep in mind that if you can’t solve it on your own, I will get involved, and you might not like my solution.”

Then leave the room for five minutes.

Step 4: EXPLAIN (still teaching)

When you return, if they have worked out an agreement—which is so much easier without anger—Hallelujah! The angels sing.

This is a big moment, because you have established the FACT that arguing and fighting can stop immediately. You’ve proven that it can be done. That matters, because what we can do once, we can do again. Then we can do it for longer periods, and then it becomes a HABIT. Wow, what would that be like?

But what if they’re still arguing and fighting when you come back in five minutes?

Now you get more involved, you explain and teach more. Now, because THEY have failed to solve the conflict, YOU will OFFER some options. You will not solve or stop the conflict. You’ll just teach them and give them more information, so that hopefully they can solve this.

Let’s look at an example. Two kids are fighting over who gets to play with a toy. You’ve heard it all:

“It’s mine.”

“I had it first.”

“Stop it.”

“Give it back.”

“That’s not fair.”

“I’m telling Mom.”

This is accompanied by shouting, screaming, name-calling, hitting, and wrestling over the toy on the floor.

You say, “I gave you a chance to work this out. You didn’t, so now I will make some suggestions.” Offer some choices, but leave THEM to choose. You might say, for example:

1. “You (Child A) could use the toy first—for 20 mins (make up your own number)—and then YOU (Child B) can play with it for as long as you want.” The idea here (a clever trick, really) is that one child gets first use, while the second child gets to use the toy longer. Tough choice for most children.

2. “I will take the toy and put it away so that neither of you can use it. Then you can both find something else to do.”

You proposing ideas sometimes gets their creativity flowing, and they might come up with a modification of your idea, or—motivated by your second choice—they might come up with something entirely different.

If they refuse to agree, you move to Step Five.


Kids only repeat a behavior if they get something from it—a reward. With arguing and fighting there are many rewards, which are the FUEL for the fire of their conflict: power, being right, feeling stronger than somebody else, and more. In many respects, they actually enjoy the fighting. It makes them feel more alive, or—at the very least—less helpless and weak.

But arguments can’t survive without the anger that fuels them. You can’t make children agree, but you can remove the fuel. How?

First by loving them. Your love puts a wet blanket on the fire. And you could say, “I’ve decided that the highest goal of this family is to be happy. Arguing and fighting don’t lead to happiness, so we’re going to eliminate this argument and give you a chance to learn something from it.” You’re not doing this to stop the argument. You’re doing this to remove the fuel and fire of the moment, to see if they can calm down enough to learn how to handle a disagreement.

You continue, “You can both go to separate rooms now and stay there until you’re ready to solve this problem without any fighting. When you’re ready, you can come and find me.”

In most cases, only a few minutes pass before they want to talk to you again. If they solve the problem, great. If they don’t, you return them to their rooms, but with a bonus. You begin to add consequences, which are intended only to make arguing and fighting less fun for them. You might remove a number of favorite toys to a box in the garage, or take their phones or video games for a day or two. Use your imagination. The point is never to punish them but to remove the fuel from the fire of excitement they experience when they argue.

As you increase the consequences, and as they stay alone in their rooms, they invariably acquire a genuine desire to work things out.


All these steps are integrated. Although listed in sequence, they’re all related, and you might need to alternate between them, or change the order, do more than one at a time. Step 1 always accompanies the other steps, for example.

If possible, teach all the above steps BEFORE you begin implementing them, before the next argument or fight. You might say, “Here’s what we’re going to be doing from now on,” and then explain what will happen if there is any arguing or fighting—immediately and every time. The steps are the same regardless of age, although the language you use would be tailored to their understanding. You can teach even pre-verbal children how not to scream their disagreement.

These Steps Work

Does this actually work? Uncounted thousands of parents around the world have followed these steps, and they report that if they actually do them, they ALWAYS work. One mother consistently followed these principles with her young children, and after a short time she wrote to me and said:

“My 8-y.o. son Bruce was in his room, reading, and Bonnie, age 6, was pestering him with questions and requests that he play with her.”

We all know where this usually goes. Bruce would say, “Stop bothering me.”

Bonnie would say, “I’m NOT bothering you. YOU are ignoring me.”

And on and on, getting worse by the second.

But Bruce had been consistently loved and taught, so he calmly said, “Bonnie, I’d like to be alone.”

Bonnie replied, “Okay.”

Then she walked out, closing the door softly, while Bruce said, “Thanks Bonnie.”

Disagreement and potential conflict OVER.

That is stunning, and you can teach your children to feel and behave like that.


If you want to stop the arguing and fighting of your children, you have to set the example. You can’t express anger at them or anyone else in your home. And then you have to be consistent with the steps we’ve discussed.

Your Kids CAN Stop Fighting

Click the button below and learn how to change the arguing and fighting into peace and companionship.

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About the author 

Greg Baer, M.D.

I am the founder of The Real Love® Company, Inc, a non-profit organization. Following the sale of my successful ophthalmology practice I have dedicated the past 25 years to teaching people a remarkable process that replaces all of life's "crazy" with peace, confidence and meaning in various aspects of their personal lives, including parenting, marriages, the workplace and more.

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