When Joseph was three, he sat at the counter, a glass half full of milk in front of him. He’d insisted he was a big boy and, as such, didn’t need a sippy cup top.


 As we chatted about our day, he tipped the glass closer and closer to a full spill.


“Joseph,” I said in warning, “if you spill your milk because you’re playing with the glass, I’m going to put a a sippy lid on it.”


“I won’t!” he assured me.


Over and over I watched him spin and tilt the cup until, as predicted, it tumbled over spilling milk across the counter.


“Oh, Joseph!”


“I didn’t do it!”




“It wasn’t me,” he insisted.


“Really. Who was it then?”


“It was my hands,” he held up his pudgy little hands and shook his head in sadness. “They’re very bad.”


His tendency to argue and negotiate has become a trait that I both admire and wish he’d lose. “No” is not a final answer. Even “yes” is open to negotiation in his mind. Whether it’s TV time, the dinner he can’t stand, or getting dressed, the boy will argue until he feels things go his way. And because what is important to a five-year-old little boy doesn’t always sync with what’s important to an entire family, arguments have begun to crop up in daily conversation with mind numbing frequency.


I find myself telling him, in a tone of voice eerily similar to my mother’s, “No more arguing, young man!” Even worse, I find myself shaking my head, holding up my hand, and saying, “Because I said so and that’s final.”


What do you do when your son starts to argue with you? Even more importantly, what do you do when halfway through the argument, you realize…he’s right?