How To Win An Argument With An Opinionated 4-Year-Old

by Joelle Wisler
AnitaPatterson / iStock

My 4-year-old believes herself to be worldly, wise, and much brighter than her parents, who don’t even know that food isn’t supposed to ever touch other food. Her opinions run rampant on everything from how to pronounce the word “purple” (she is convinced it’s “purtle”) to when the sun is allowed to go down, to her constant disappointment in my fashion choices.

“Wear your black fancy thing! Why don’t you ever try to look fancy?!” she shouts at me as we are headed to a neighborhood barbecue.

“It’s 90 degrees and that black thing you are talking about is a wool shawl. I’m sorry that I’m not fancy enough for you, your majesty,” I tell her in return. I may have bowed.

And like all 4-year-olds, she believes that she has been on the planet forever so she knows a lot. Add to this a strong stubborn streak, and I find myself unwittingly being pulled into ridiculous arguments every single day. But I feel as if I have achieved expert status on winning these impossible-to-win arguments. Here is how you, too, can win an argument with a very opinionated 4-year-old:

Hi there, 4-year-old. I understand that you want to be able to dress however you like, but that outfit is probably not going to work.

Yes, I realize you feel like a princess. And I know that you worked very hard on that outfit. But you see, it’s summertime and those are leg warmers. And snow boots.

They are technically covering your legs, correct. But it’s 1,000 degrees out.

Yes, it’s as hot as lava.

I do remember that time we played “don’t touch the hot lava,” and we put all the pillows on the floor.

Yes, it was super fun.

Yes, we’ll do it again sometime.

No, not right now.

Because we are going to be late to the party if we play the hot lava game right now.

And the leg warmers and boots aren’t really the main problem. The main problem is that your dress isn’t actually a dress anymore, you’ve grown taller and now it’s more like a shirt.

I know it’s covering your bottom, but that isn’t technically the definition of a dress.

No, it’s not.

No, it’s not.

No, it’s not.

Oh, god. Seriously. It’s not a dress!

If you insist on wearing that shirt that is not a dress, you will at least need to put on a pair of shorts.

And probably lose the leg warmers — and boots.

I see. You think you look like a superhero princess.

Well, you are going to be a superhero princess of fire because your legs will probably burn up the second you walk outside (laughs…for barely a second).

I’m sorry I laughed.

I won’t laugh again.

I won’t.

No, not ever.

Ever ever.

Okay. Why don’t you just put on some shorts, and then you’ll need some different shoes.

Because you always need to wear shoes.

Yes. Always.

Well, no, not at the beach, but we aren’t going to the beach. We’re going to a party.

Because the beach is very far away.

Yes, we’ll go sometime.

Sure, yes, next Christmas. Whatever. Get some shorts! Find your shoes!

I yelled because you are seriously driving me insane.

Well, then it’s mutual.

I’m pretty sure she wore the shorts that day, but I’m kinda fuzzy on the rest of the details. I may have gotten very tired, and it’s possible that we skipped the whole thing. So, saying that I could “win” an argument with 4-year-old was kind of a stretch. The two of us should probably just let each other wear whatever we want as long as our bottoms are covered.