Your Turn: He doesn't believe me!


Ok, everyone… I really need your help on this one.  I have no idea what to do…

Frequently, when I tell Elias something, he does not believe me.  In fact, he will argue the opposite point with me.  And I sit dumbfounded that I am arguing with a 3 year old about something that he knows nothing about.

Examples? He is convinced that the trunk of the car is in the front and the hood is in the back.  Nothing I or anyone else says will change his mind.  And it’s not a “woodpecker.”  It’s a “woodPACKER.”  It’s not “instructions” – it’s “constructions.”  And many, many more.

Seriously… I argue these points with him.  And it hasn’t just been the past little bit – these arguments have been going on for about a year or so – since Elias has been able to string together his thoughts into coherent sentences.

And I argue these points with him because I think it is important – not that the trunk is in the back of the car and the hood is in the front, but that he believes what I say and take my word as an authority in his life.

In a parenting class Josh and I are taking, we read the following in our workbook:

All children are born with an inherent sense of trust in Mom and Dad.  In the primary years, they believe everything Mommy and Daddy tell them, whether it is true or not.  By our correct words and deeds, we help them interpret life. (Along the Virtuous Way, footnote pg 59.)

I know that this is a blanket statement, and the point of the thought is not even that kids believe everything their parents say, but that we, as parents, should use correct words and deeds to help train our children by our example.

But as I think over that statement, I begin to wonder where I went wrong.  I have always tried (with varying degrees of success) to live as God would have me live – and especially with children, I have always wanted to model “correct words and deeds” for them. I cannot think of anything that I (or my husband) have done to destroy the trust Elias should have in our words.

Because if he, a 3 year old who cannot read and is an authority on nothing, does not believe the little things that we say (“No, really buddy, it is not a woodPACKER.  They do not PACK wood.  They PECK it.  Therefore, it’s a woodPECKER.”) how can I know that he will believe the big things I say?  I want him to take my word as an authority until he is able to read and fully comprehend what he has read for himself – and mostly, I want to start impressing God’s word on his heart before he can read. But if he doesn’t believe me when I say that God is love, that God loves him, that God is always with him, and all the good news and promises that the Bible contains… what is going to happen?

On top of all of that, how am I going to teach him other things through life?  I am planning on homeschooling – what if he rejects everything I teach him as fact?

I will say, Elias comes by this arguing quite naturally.  I mean, I can think of a couple people on each side of the family tree that are quite proficient in arguing. ehem…

OK – so here’s where I need your help: am I over-reacting?  (yes, yes, I know I am to some extent.  I cannot forecast what will happen coming down the road… and I cannot worry about the condition of his heart – that is up to the Lord.)  But should I be making a big deal about this now?  I said it happens frequently – I would say this happens 50% of the time.  What part of this is normal pre-schooler independence, and what part is not normal? IS THIS NORMAL? argh! I really do not know if anyone else is going/has gone through this before.

I would love to hear from you about this… thank you as always for your encouragement and helpful comments!!!


**This “issue/concern” is shaping my next lessons for Elias on Respect.  Stay tuned this week for some new things on Respecting God’s Word.


  1. My now 4 year old went through that phase and is now out of it, thankfully! I’m the queen of over reacting, so I’m not going to tell you that you are, but be patient and see if it’s just a phase for him. Be sure to validate him when he is right. He may just feel like the only one who doesn’t know much around the house.

    Of course, yesterday when I couldn’t remember something my 4 year old said he did with his dad he said, “I know everything and you don’t know everything!” 🙂 It’s always going to be something!
    .-= Sandra´s last blog ..Twitter Is Like… =-.

  2. Oh, my. I have one like that. Thinks she knows everything and Mama knows nothing. It is seriously THE most frustrating aspect of mothering her.

    I don’t think you’re overreacting; I think that children are being “wise in their own eyes” when they do this, and refusing to submit to our authority over them. But if I knew how to fix it, I wouldn’t have a 7yo like this.
    .-= Rachel R.´s last blog ..‘Tis the Season – Gifts for HER =-.

  3. Arguing with a three year old is like trying to grasp water in your hands. I would give it up. In all likelihood, this is just a phase he is going through. If he is being defiant that’s one thing, if he’s sure he’s right about everything – that makes him a man. 🙂
    .-= Wayne Stocks´s last blog ..Monday Morning Prophecy #24 – The Messiah Would Calm the Seas =-.

  4. We definitely have gone through phases like that with Jon, our four year old. There are some things that I just don’t argue with him about anymore. A silly example, he thinks that instead of saying “See you later alligator” that it’s “See you later crocodile” I’ve told him several times and he keeps insisting that he’s right and I just decided it’s not a hill to die on. I think that’s the key. Decide which things are important that he know as truth and which ones don’t really matter at this point in life. For example, the woodpecker thing…when he starts to learn to read, you can show him in a book, but until then…it’s not of eternal importance. If he rejects or argues with you about something spiritual or Biblical, then I would get down at his level and explain in a very serious/loving/patient tone that he is wrong and that he needs to believe you. Hopefully, if that is done only on occasion and with much prayer, it will get through to him. Hang in there, God has given you everything you need to be this little guy’s Mama–He won’t fail you now!
    .-= heather g´s last blog ..Fall Fun =-.

  5. Oh, Leigh. I hear you. I feel the same way about Lydia and being afraid. How many times can I tell her MOMMY IS RIGHT HERE. I WILL PROTECT YOU. JESUS GIVES YOU STRENGTH. etc.?! I feel like her fear issues have gotten worse not better. I want to say, “Lydia! Why can’t you believe me?!!” Yesterday some idiot restaurant had a giant inflatable witch up still. It was very cartoonish and honestly not scary. It was just big. And she FREAKED. If we had not been with friends, I would have probably left. I had her turn her back so she couldn’t see it, but she just wouldn’t let go. That’s what reminded me of Elias. She just WILL NOT stop. As an infant/toddler you could just redirect. As an almost 4 year old you can’t do that but it seems like you also can’t talk them into it.

    I totally rambled. But I hear you. TOTALLY.
    .-= oh amanda´s last blog ..Retro Photo: Row Row Row Your Boat =-.

  6. My oldest, now 11, used to doubt me all of the time. After I corrected her facts one time, she offered to ask Daddy when he got home. At first, I was offended and worried. Thankfully, when our second daughter entered this stage, my Childlife Specialist Sis in law shared with me that 4 year olds do not accept information as fact until they have heard it 3 or 4 times at least. Sometimes more often than that. Huh? That helped my patience. Good work that you are doing, Mom.

  7. By 5.5 I have accepted that questioning and challenging is just part of my son’s personality. I do my best to train him to be respectful in his tone and wording. It’s not an aspect of his personality that is endearing. The 2nd phase is, “I was just going to say that.” When anyone discovers something, has an idea, or an answer. It makes me crazy. No answers just know you’re not alone.

  8. As I read your blog I just had to laugh. I was riding in the car with my 3 year old son today when we passed a sinclair gas station with a green dinasaur out front. I did not want my son to miss it so I said look “D” theres a green dinasaur. He looks out his window at the dinasaur and says its not green. Now I want you to know that I have known all my colors for many moons. After about 2 minutes of arguing with my 2 year son he finally looked at me and said “mom it’s not blue”. I just laughed and thought to myself is this my new life with a boy. I have no answers but wanted you to know that if you find it please let me know.
    Your sister in Christ,

  9. I just stumbled upon your blog b/c I was looking for character words and definitions for teaching my little ones.

    This blog entry made me smile too, b/c we are there also with my 4 year old. We used to argue with him and my husband would say “now J, who would know better? You or Mommy?” he would answer that he know more and my husband would keep reiterating that mommy knows better.

    Lately I have found myself correcting once and not making an issue of it. I have been feeling like he wants to feel a sense of mastery and like he’s gathered knowledge (maybe that’s pride that I’m nurturing or maybe that’s navigating the waters of becoming a “big kid”) but I will correct him in the way I respond back to him (ie. Wow, yeah, Look at that WoodPECKER, he’s pecking lots of wood) instead of pointing out that he is wrong. I feel like he responds to that and will usually file it away to use in future conversations (a gentler way of correcting, I hope… we’ll keep trying it and see what happens but for now I feel like he feels better).

    Now, on big issues we do really get on his level and correct. I don’t know where this idea came from and why it took me so long to do this, but we will go and open a Bible and look for the answers there (especially good for Character issues or fear). My son has alot of fear right now and when I finally took him to Gods Word and we read “Do Not Be Afraid, for I am with you” it was like salve to his little heart and we could talk about it from there. He never has thought that God is wrong, just us. I will keep trying this approach.

    Also, that wanting to hang onto what he thinks is right and stubbornness will serve him well when he’s hanging out with his friends and they give him wrong information in the future or try to convince him to do something he shouldn’t. I think it’s a gift from God too, we just have to learn to help shape that gift – submitting to authority vs hanging on to your convictions.

    We’re in the middle of this same issue, but wanted to chime in with my thoughts. I have a 4 and 2 year old and think I should probably keep visiting your site to learn with you. Thanks!

    Love in Jesus,

  10. My 4yo used to do this all the time. I would just ask him if I normally lied to him or told him the truth. He always answered with “the truth,” so then I asked if he thought I was lying now. It worked every time, I think because it helped him to think through whether he could trust what I said. (Another positive was that it served to make him aware – gently – that he was implying that I was lying.)

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