Give Bad Behavior A “Name,” When Your Children Argue

There were children arguing in my home this morning.  I was brushing my hair, and I could hear the argument begin.  I knew the details, I could hear their voices change in tone and volume, and I could predict the outcome.

What was going through my mind?  Did I stomp into the living room, and proclaim that “I have had it with their arguing,” or perhaps I yelled from my bedroom, “That is enough, stop the fighting and go to your rooms?”

This might have been the scenario that would have played years ago, before I began to understand where and why this arguing would take place. Now I see and hear things differently.

I have learned to give Arguing and Fighting a Name.

What does that mean?

Give EACH behavior a name.  Identify the character issues that need addressed – Rather than – “Just stop your fighting.”

Sure, kids will stop fighting – for the moment – but INSIDE  – Nothing has changed.

This is what I really heard this morning – Selfishness, Lack of Respect for Another persons property, Anger and a lack of Self-control.

Now I have something to work with.  Not just a stern voice of reprimand, or a temporary fix.

For the Mom That Is Serious About Change:

1.)Begin to ignore the noise, and listen for the real problem.

2.)Identify the Character Issues that are at the “heart” of the problem.

3.)Sit down and discuss the heart issue and begin character training daily in this reoccurring character quality.

4.)Give Bad behavior a name – rather than a consequence only.

5.)Put-Off /Put-On – Remember this principle – We train our children to remove a negative behavior and need to replace it with a positive character quality.

Be compassionate when your children fight and argue.  Yes, it makes us angry that they continue to treat one another so badly, but our harsh words will not change their hearts.

When you help your children identify their true character – and give it a name – they now have something to work with.

Learn to listen and give their bad behavior a name.  Then put/off/put on with a positive character quality. 

We can use the worst moments in our days –  to change the heart.

Have you been following along in this Series of My Children Fight Like Cats and Dogs?  Here you can find Part 1 and Part 2 also.

Check back Wednesday for the final post in this series – Heart Change and Peace – With a printable  list of Character Qualities that will help us get to the “Heart of the Matter.”

I am praying for you – peace is possible.  Don’t give up!



What are some character/heart issues that you have learned to identify in your children’s behavior?



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Heather MacFadyen
    June 25, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    So good! going to share this! Thanks so much. 

  • Reply
    Leigh Dusek
    June 26, 2012 at 1:07 am

    I am so glad that you wrote this.  I have days where I am the one yelling from the next room.  However, I’ve found myself doing this character training and didn’t even know what I doing.  I just knew it was the right thing.  I learned years ago to do this with my autistic boys, with replacing negative behaviors with positive and refocusing them.  It’s so amazing how the Lord works in our hearts.


  • Reply
    June 26, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Just read part 1 & 2 and this one.  I appreciate your ideas and encouragement.  Fighting is definitely an issue in our home.  My boys are 12, 10 and 6.  My older two are “changing” and struggling with emotions and anger.  This past few months the fighting has gotten really bad.  Glad I was directed to your posts.  It was what I needed to hear.

  • Reply
    June 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Wonderful…I can’t tell you how I love this series you’re doing. 

    With a 2 year old…I’d say every issues stems from selfishness.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    I just came across this post and read the A soft answer turns the other day.  There is alot of arguing that goes on between the 3 children.  Twin B/G 4 yrs old in April and Daughter who will be 6 in Aug.   Sometimes I dont know where to begin with figuring out how to teach them the things I know they need to learn.  =-)

  • Reply
    Heart Change and Peace – When The Fighting Stops
    July 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    […] hope that this Series on Children Fighting – And How to Handle It, has been helpful.  It has been a good refresher course for myself as well!   If you missed this […]

  • Leave a Reply

    Holler Box