Children who repeatedly beg and argue often have parents who respond by begging and arguing back.
While children will respect parents who are flexible in matters that warrant flexibility, you need to be firm when you are sure about a given rule, like not seeing R- rated movies. There’s no need to be mean or threatening when being firm. In fact, you can show a little compassion or give a brief explanation as to your thinking. “Sorry, but no R – rated movies. I believe that level of violence/sexuality/language is inappropriate for you.”
But beware of too much compassion, too much explanation, and never plead, all of which convey a lack of authority on your part. Don’t yell or lose control either, which also show a lack of personal power.
If they continue to badger you, say, “You heard me. I’m not changing my mind. Please don’t ask again.” If they continue, find an appropriate consequence and do not hesitate to use it. “This complaining is excessive. Let’s see a movie another night.”
It can be helpful to remind them that it would be easy for you to let them do whatever they wanted, but that you care too much about them. You want them to develop into independent, self-sufficient, and self-empowered adults who can make appropriate decisions.
by Alison Poulsen, PhD