A Lesson From Pre-Schoolers on How to Argue

By:Meredith Ivey LPC-S, RPT-S

Isn’t it neat how the simplicity of childhood can teach you things? I was working in the church nursery one day when I heard two 4 year old girls arguing. Let’s call them Sarah and Allison. Sarah was adamant that she and Allison attended the same school, while Allison was sure that they did not. I happened to know that Allison attended the church pre-school and Sarah did not. However, it was clear Sarah was certain of her beliefs. So I decided I would try to understand the little girls’ logic. I began with, “Allison, where do you go to school?” She replied “at the church preschool.“ So I turned to Sarah and said “Sarah, where do you go to school?” She responded simply “pre-school.” Ah ha! I understood! And could see why Sarah was right in her mind. So I told Sarah, “Sarah you are right, you and Allison both go to pre-school.” And continued “Do you know what pre-school means?”… This simple conversation was eye opening to me and I will never forget it. Here are three of the things it taught me about arguments.

1. Define the word, term, phrase, or whatever the argument is about. We often misunderstand words just like Sarah did. Sometimes we misuse words, or we could simply be using an alternate definition of a word. Clarification will help eliminate any confusion for the other person.

2. Take time to understand. Don’t just listen, understand. Take a minute, put away your agenda, feelings, etc. and just listen to the other person. In most instances arguments happen when both people are feeling they aren’t being understood. Be the one who takes time to understand. And who knows, once you’ve taken time to understand them, they may just want to do the same for you.

3. It’s not about being right or wrong. Remember it is not about being right or wrong. Likely it’s about compromising, communicating well, and building a relationship. You can’t do those things with an agenda of being proved right. Plus, there’s not always a right or wrong. Sarah was correct in her own way. Often two people can be correct, but still see things differently and have different perspectives.


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