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phrases that teach how to respectfully disagree

While toddlers frequently say "no" as a matter of principle, by the time your child reaches the preschool years, they likely have a legitimate difference of opinion when they argue. And that's fine—great actually. We want our children to think for themselves, to examine the information available to them and form their own opinions rather than blindly following others.

This is actually a big focus in Montessori classrooms. Rather than a teacher dictating information to the children to memorize, they are encouraged to explore the environment and materials provided and to discover things for themselves. One of the purposes of this method of teaching is to help children form an identity as free thinkers, as scientists and self-learners who are capable of discovering knowledge and drawing their own conclusions.

Even if they're not trying to be rude, if they're just trying to assert themselves and share their thoughts, young children's arguments can seem rude and abrasive. They haven't mastered the art of respectfully disagreeing in a way that makes others want to hear them out.

As mamas, if we can look past the rude language and avoid getting mad, there's a great opportunity to help our children learn how to disagree respectfully, which will help them be heard.

Try these phrases to teach your children how to respectfully disagree:

1. "What do you think about that?"

If you can see that your child is about to argue, beat them to it and ask for their thoughts. This changes the dynamic of the interaction, making it cooperative rather than combative.

2. "Do you have a different opinion?"

If your child says something like "No way!" or "You're wrong," invite them to share their opinion. By staying calm you will show them that you're open to discussion and they will become less defensive and quick to argue over time.

3. "Would you like a turn to talk?"

It often takes lots of practice for young children to learn not to interrupt. Help your child by telling them when you're done talking. If your child starts to interrupt you with an argument, use a silent signal such as holding up one finger to show them you're not done talking. Invite them to share their thoughts when you're ready.

4. "You can say 'I have a different opinion about that.'"

Sometimes you explicitly have to tell your child what to say, like offering them a script. When your child disagrees with you in a way that seems rude, offer them a better way to express themselves. Take a deep breath and give them the benefit of the doubt that they're not trying to make you mad, and give them a do-over.

5. "I hear that you disagree. How can you say that differently?"

After you've practiced more respectful ways to disagree a few times, prompt your child to think of a more polite way to phrase an argument, rather than giving them the script. This will help them internalize and really practice socially acceptable ways to disagree.

6. "It sounds like we need a moderator."

Using a moderator can be a powerful tool for children and adults alike. If you have a really strong disagreement—maybe your child wants to have their first sleepover and you're not sure they're ready—try using a moderator like an aunt, uncle or friend. The point is to model the process. Make sure to choose an issue where you're okay with either outcome or it can backfire!

7. "Wow, you have a strong opinion about that."

Many times, all a child needs is to know that they are heard. By validating your child's dissenting opinion ("Wow, you have a strong opinion about what shoes to wear!") you can often diffuse the situation.

The more your child sees you staying calm during a disagreement, the more they will follow your lead.

8. "I don't think that's right. I'm going to ask a question."

Children really do as we do, not as we say. We can talk to them all day about disagreeing respectfully, but in the end, they are going to copy what we do.

Try to find opportunities to model respectful disagreement in front of your child. It could be as simple as inquiring about a receipt that doesn't seem right or offering a different opinion to your spouse about what restaurant to go to.

Show your child that it's okay to disagree, and it can be done without anger.

9. "You didn't want to play cars. What could you say to your friend?"

Whether your child is the type to run to you for support every time they have a disagreement with a friend or the type to hit or yell at their friend if they disagree, you can steer them toward a more effective social dynamic.

At first, you will likely have to help your child a lot to think of ways to respectfully disagree with their friends, but with practice, it will become more natural for them.

10. "Let's play a game!"

Role playing is a powerful (and fun!) tool that we use all of the time in Montessori classrooms. If there is an issue in the classroom, such as children bumping into each other without saying "excuse me" or children distracting each other from their work, we take turns role-playing acceptable ways to handle the situation at group time.

This is something you can do in your family too. Create a scenario, such as two children disagreeing about sharing toys or two children disagreeing about what game to play, and role-play different things your child could try.

Make sure to try their suggestions as well as your own!

11. "Let's try the peace rose."

The peace rose is another tool used in many Montessori classrooms that's very effective with some children, and not with others, but it is certainly worth a try.

The idea of the peace rose is that two children who are having a disagreement can pass the peace rose back and forth as they each take a turn to talk. They are encouraged to express their feelings and opinions about a situation and brainstorm a solution.

It can be discouraging when it feels like your child argues over everything! Just remember that you are raising a strong, independent thinker who will be able to challenge authority and peer pressure when necessary. With your help, they'll learn to do so in a way that will serve them, rather than antagonizing others.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

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This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

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Allover roller

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This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

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Kombucha making kit

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What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

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This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

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Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

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