When Kids Need to Have the Last Word

Recently I’ve been having conversations with kids about the need to have THE LAST WORD in a discussion.

And honestly, they don’t like Last Word-itis any more than we do.

They simply get stuck in the back and forth.

It feels SO important to get that last word in as a way of proving that the other person hasn’t won.

Kids shared that NOT getting the last word feels like…

  • losing
  • giving in
  • admitting they’re wrong
  • the other person believing they agree when they don’t
  • they’re weak and the other person will think they can walk all over them

When our kiddos get stuck in the back and forth, they’re fiercely driven by a need to prove that they’re right and subsequently that we’re wrong.

All of us have this drive to prove ourselves right.

It simply feels better than being wrong or others thinking we’re wrong.

In kids’ minds it might go something like this… “If I can just find the right words to make my point, they will magically change their mind and agree with me.”

If only!

In reality, the back and forth just keeps going and going with each person focused on proving their point.

Here are three conversations I have with kids to help them learn to avoid the Last Word-itis Trap.

Conversations Don’t Have Winners Or Losers. They’re Paths to Understanding.

Model for kids that disagreeing is okay.

It’s not disrespectful to have different viewpoints. It’s how we share them that’s important.

Discussions are a way we can understand each others perspectives, not a battle to win.

Choose Pausing Over Proving.

Share with kids that when we speak with someone who’s stuck in proving mode it feels like being pushed or bulldozed. Nobody likes this and it usually accomplishes nothing.

Help them recognize when they’re in proving mode and instead to pause the conversation.

The Power Move

For some kids, getting the last word feels powerful and not getting the last word feels weak and powerless.

When we explore what takes more power and strength, they usually share that it’s much harder to let the other person have the last word. So, we reframe power. The power move is choosing to let the other person have the last word.

I believe one of the most important things I can help you do is to help you create your own insights into children’s emotional lives.

Here are some questions to guide you:

  • What’s your experience with kids needing to have the last word?
  • Which situations increase your child’s need to get the last word?
  • When is it easier for them to let it go?
  • What do you believe helps them avoid the Last Word-itis Trap?

Continue the conversation by sharing your experiences, questions, or a-has with me below. I’d love to hear them!