How can I reason with my child?

How can I reason with my child? An example usually helps. About a week ago I got a normal request from my oldest. “Dad, I want to buy a video game.” The first question we always ask is, “What’s it rated?”. He answered that it wasn’t rated. “Uh-oh”, I thought here we go…

Attitude when the discussion begins

You see, when you have a child that is obsessive-compulsive discussions can get, well, interesting. As they focus on the one thing they think they have to have, you are trying to determine if it is in their best interest. You have a couple of options at this point:

  1. Say no and don’t budge from it
  2. Give in and let it all play out
  3. Analyze and discuss their obsession

Saying No Right Away

I used to say “No” all the time. I would take a cursory look at the item and then decide that it was a no (I’ll be honest, sometimes it was because I didn’t want to deal with a long complicated argument). Usually, the child would follow me around and pester me about it. My kids learned that if they were determined enough they could wear me down. This was not an effective way of dealing with the issue.

Giving In

There were times when it seemed easier to just give in rather than have the discussion (read argument) over the object of obsession. Giving in doesn’t always work out for the best. In fact, it’s not really a good option at all.  That doesn’t mean that yes shouldn’t be an answer, it just means that giving in because I’m tired doesn’t work.

Analyze the Item

This option is the one I use right now. It takes some time to do and is definitely NOT the easiest option of the three. However, I have found that this option allows me to have a conversation with the child and be able to reason with him/her.
The face he makes during analysis
In the case of the video game mentioned above, I started to do a search for the game’s rating. I did find a rating of Mature for the XBox One and PlayStation, but no rating for the PC version. It just so happened that the PC version was the one he wanted to buy. Eventually, I found a rating for the add-on to the PC game which was rated Mature.
Now, I’ve been down this road a few times and I know that if I let him buy the “base” game, that it won’t be long before he states that the “base” game isn’t any fun. Then he will want to purchase the add-on. Without the add-on, he will have “wasted his money”.
So what to do now? Well, I had him show me the videos of the gameplay and pointed out to him things that were “mature” in nature. In this game, it had to do with X-Ray views of people being killed and the blood and gore associated with it. This didn’t seem to affect him. He is 16 and figures that violence isn’t that bad.
Ok, now what? Well, it was time to go to my ace in the hole. What is that ace? The minimum requirements for running the game. So first we check the Operating System, it’s good. Next, we check the memory needed, again good. Finally, we check the graphics requirements. See, he doesn’t like it when games “lag” and so the graphics requirements can give a good hint as to how much “lag” there will be. In this case, the graphics card didn’t meet the requirements. This means that the game wouldn’t play right.

Well, once that was explained there was no way he was going to spend $40 of his money on a game that wouldn’t work. Analysis and reasoning had won the day again.

Happy that he got something he liked

So what happened next?

My son realized after the analysis was done that it was not smart to buy the game. I was relieved. Now, I knew the game wasn’t right for him, but I had to help him see it. Whatever the method, he needs to see that it is a bad decision instead of me telling him it’s a bad decision.
In the end, he was able to use his money on something else that he enjoys and we don’t have a game in the house that we are uncomfortable with.


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