What Kids Say About: Arguing

People don't always get along, and when they don't, it's called conflict. We wanted to know more the arguments and disagreements kids have, so we did a KidsPoll to find out.

We asked 1,245 boys and girls ages 9 to 13 about conflict and here's what they said:

  • There's plenty of arguing going on — 38% of kids said arguments occur in their home every day; 26% said it happens every week.
  • More than half of kids (56%) said they argue most with brothers and sisters.
  • For some, fights get physical. About a quarter of the kids (26%) say they usually hit or get in a physical fight when they argue with another kid.

But it wasn't all bad news. A third of the kids also had this to say:

  • When they're in an argument, they try to talk or work it out.
  • They'd like some help from adults to work out their differences.

What's a percentage?

Let's start with those brother and sister squabbles. It's normal and natural to disagree with your siblings. And it makes perfect sense that kids argue most with brothers and sisters. Kids spend lots of time with siblings and they feel more comfortable with them — two conditions that make arguing more likely.

Arguing with siblings can become so normal that, just like breathing, you might do it naturally without even thinking of it. But that doesn't mean lots of arguing is OK. (Just ask your parents!) And it's never OK to hit or get in a physical fight with a sibling — or anyone else, for that matter.

If you'd like to argue less with siblings (and everyone else), follow these three steps:

  1. Control your temper. This is one of the true secrets to arguing less. So often, kids (and adults) let their tempers take control. Before you know it, they've done or said something that they don't mean and wish they could take back. Staying calm and polite makes it easier to resolve conflicts and helps the other person stay in control, too.
  2. Seek out adults when you need them. It's great when kids can work out their differences without needing mom or dad to be the referee every time. But sometimes parents or other adults are helpful. They can enforce some basic rules, like "no hitting or name-calling allowed." They also can remind kids of other rules that have been set in the house, like you can't go into your sibling's room without asking first.
  3. Try to see the other person's side. Everyone says to do this, but how? The next time you're arguing with someone, take a time-out and switch sides. You take the other person's side and he or she will take yours. State the argument just as the other person has been stating it and try to understand what the point is.

    For example, if Jane and Mark were fighting over the last cupcake, Jane would have to make Mark's point about how he only got one cupcake so far. And Mark would have to make Jane's argument about how the last cupcake should be hers because they were from her birthday party. Once you've stated the other person's side, ask: "Did I get it right?"

    You might be thinking that resolving an argument this way is going to take a lot of time. It can take a while, but it's well worth it. After all that talking it out and trying to understand each other, Jane and Mark were probably ready to split that last cupcake! Mmmm!

What's a KidsPoll?

The group that took this KidsPoll included an almost equal number of boys and girls. They answered the questions on handheld data devices while visiting these health education centers and children's museums:

  • CDC Global Health Odyssey — Atlanta, Georgia
  • Children's Health Education Center — Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Health World Children's Museum — Barrington, Illinois
  • Hult Education Center — Peoria, Illinois
  • Kansas Learning Center — Halstead, Kansas
  • McMillen Center for Health Education — Ft. Wayne, Indiana
  • Poe Center for Health Education — Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Robert Crown Center for Health Education — Hinsdale, Illinois
  • Ruth Lilly Health Education Center — Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Weller Health Education Center — Easton, Pennsylvania

A poll, like the KidsPoll, asks people a list of questions. Then researchers compile all the answers and look at the way the group answered. They calculate how many — or what percentage — answered "yes" to this question and "no" to that one. Polls give us clues about how most people — not just the ones who answered the poll questions — feel about certain issues. We'll be conducting more KidsPolls in the future to find out what kids say — maybe you'll be part of one!

Kids Health

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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