While most parents discourage their kids from "talking back", new research suggests that argumentative children are better off later in life than those who are more placid.
In fact, new findings suggest that parents should start deliberately arguing or teaching their children how to argue more effectively.
Researchers found that boys and girls who regularly get into spats with their parents are better at fending off peer pressure and less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Argumentative teens also turn out to be better negotiators and can "learn to be taken more seriously" after some banter with their elders.
The study published in the journal Child Development consisted of 157 13-year-olds of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. All participants were taped describing arguments that they typically had with their mothers. The recorded tapes were then replayed for the mothers to hear.
Three years after the first part of the study, the same participants were questioned about their lives and their experiences with drugs and alcohol.
Researchers found that teens that displayed confidence and used logic to back up their statements were significantly more likely to have refused negative peer pressure and 40 percent more likely to say "no" when offered alcohol or drugs compared to kids who didn't argue with their parents.
Lead author Joseph Allen, a University of Virginia psychology professor, said that the link between resisting peer pressure and a teenager's ability to argue was "surprising".
"It turns out that what goes on in the family is actually a training ground for teens in terms of how to negotiate with other people," Allen said, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress.
He said that parents are often "scared to death about peer pressure," but also frustrated by argumentative children.
"What we're finding is there's a surprising connection between the two," he said. Allen noted that teens "learn they can be taken seriously" through interactions with their parents.
Co-researcher Joanna Chango, a clinical psychology graduate added that it seemed "counter-intuitive to tell parents to let their teens argue with them," but she said that the latest findings show that teenagers with more effective argumentation skills are also better at asserting themselves and have a greater sense of autonomy.
"We tell parents to think of those arguments not as nuisance but as a critical training ground," Allen told NPR.
Allen said that verbal arguments between parent and child are actually mini life lessons in how to disagree, which is an important skill later on in life with partners, friends and colleagues.
However, researchers noted that teens should be rewarded when they argue calmly and persuasively and not when they yell, whine, threaten or insult.
"The teens who learned to be calm and confident and persuasive with their parents acted the same way when they were with their peers," Allen said.
Researchers said that it is important for parents to listen to their children's concerns during an argument and to set an example for their children on good discussion practices.
Published by Medicaldaily.com