You then tell your daughter that the fact that everyone is getting the new doll isn’t reason enough to pay that much money for it and, yes, five is enough, and where the new washing machine is concerned, that was something the family needed, not something you simply wanted. And your daughter comes back with … and the game is on.
Your objective in this game of back-and-forth is to get your daughter to say what no child has ever said: “Wow, Mom. When you explain yourself like that I can’t help but agree with you. Of course I don’t need another Princess Fantastic doll and, of course, need and want are two entirely different things, and I have enough dolls as it is. Thank you, Mom, for taking the time to help me understand all of this. You’re a really super mom.” Now, that’s pretty silly of you, isn’t it?
Lastly, you said your daughter has a bad habit of arguing with you. I disagree. It’s you who has the bad habit of picking up the gauntlet whenever she throws it down.
The way to not pick up the gauntlet is to (1) say “no” and nothing more; (2) when your daughter demands to know why, say, “Because I said so.” And then (3) turn around and walk away, leaving your daughter to stew in her own juices. Our great-grandmothers were on to something, you know.
Family psychologist John Rosemond answers parents’ questions on his web site at rosemond.com.