Five keys to teach our children to debate and argue with respect

Unfortunately, it is common to find people who do not know how to debate ; who get upset or angry listening to contrary opinions, who misrepresent the arguments of the interlocutor or who are not capable of taking turns when speaking.

The debate is a communication technique that we use continuously, and that consists of confronting positions related to a certain topic. It is important that children learn from an early age to debate with respect and tolerance . There are many schools that put this technique into practice as part of their activities in the classroom, but parents can also teach them to debate by putting these simple tips into practice.

1) Know what you are talking about

One of the first rules when debating is to do it with knowledge, that is, to know what you are talking about . For this reason, when our children are unaware of a subject but show interest in it, we must encourage them to seek information or ask questions , so that they can form an opinion about it and express their point of view.

2) Capture the attention of the public

Capturing the attention of those who listen to you is another of the fundamental rules for debating. To do this, we must use a moderate and pleasant tone , not shout but neither use a monotonous voice that can bore the interlocutor and not catch their attention.

It is also important to take care of non-verbal communication when transmitting : look into the eyes of the person or persons with whom we are speaking, maintain a positive and enthusiastic attitude and be natural with gestures and movements.

In general, children tend to be quite natural with this last point, but as they grow older, and especially if they have never made presentations in public, the naturalness and spontaneity when speaking in front of a group can be lost. Therefore, it is worth reinforcing the key points of non-verbal communication before starting a discussion.

3) Wait turn to speak

Respecting the turn of others is another of the golden rules when debating . None of us like to be stepped on or cut off when we are speaking, so it is essential to instill that respect in them from childhood.

But it is not only about waiting patiently for the other person to finish speaking, but about listening carefully to what they are exposing and understanding their arguments, in order to refute or ask the pertinent questions when our turn comes again.

4) Be concise and brief

Before debating, we must teach our son to make a brief mental outline of the ideas he would like to present and how to do it so that his presentation is clear, brief and concise.

In addition, we can teach you to exemplify to make the idea you want to present more quickly and closer to the audience. Likewise, it is essential that children understand the importance of being original in their presentation and not repeating the same arguments every time they have the use of the word.

5) Keep control of emotions

In a debate we will hear many positions, some of which will be totally contrary to our way of thinking . Therefore, we must teach our children to respect the opinion of others , no matter how different it may be from their own, not to disqualify it, maintain control of emotions and not get upset when refuting it.

In addition, it is essential that children know how to differentiate the opinion of the person who expresses it. Because you can be against an idea, but never personally attack the person who transmits it. All people deserve respect , regardless of whether we like their ideas more or less.

How to practice debate at home?

If within our family we are educating our children in freedom and democracy , we will be practicing the debate almost daily and without realizing it.

Because at the moment in which the decisions of a family are made between all the members, encouraging our children’s critical thinking and listening to their opinions and valuing them , we will not only be strengthening their self-esteem , but we will also be putting into practice many of the points exposed above.

In any case, and regardless of this type of family and everyday situations that we may have, it is worth practicing, through play, how to debate with respect and tolerance:

  • Let’s do a mock debatewith them , choosing a topic that is of interest to them and about which they know and have an opinion about .
  • Let’s place special emphasis on respecting turns when speakingand not monopolizing the conversation. If they are very young, we must be patient when they speak , not cut them off, or finish the sentences for them.

In the case of older children who already have verbal fluency, we can incorporate a stopwatch as a game to mark the exposure times of the people who participate in the debate. Little by little, the clock will help them to be concise and specific in their presentation.

  • If we give them freedom of thought, actively listen and value their opinions, our children will learn by example to do the same with others.

Likewise, it is also important that we make them see that if they do not agree with a stated opinion, they must express it without fear, with respect and making sure that they are heard.

  • And finally, we can practice public speaking techniques with them through games: staging a play , singing, telling stories using different voices, teaching them tongue twisters or rhymes… In addition to having fun, all these games will help them exercise the mind , to gain greater verbal fluency and vocabulary, improve your intonation and pronunciation.