5 Tips for Making Negotiations with Children Easier

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5 Tips for Making Negotiations with Children Easier

Your kid is at it again. Every time your child gets something, he wants more: more time at the playground, more screen time, more candy. You’ve been given the parenting advice to always stay firm, to be consistent. However, how can help your child prepare for life in the real world if you’re never willing to compromise? Negotiations are central to success in business, diplomacy, and politics, not to mention happy relationships.

Using collaborative tactics can help you apply lessons taught in negotiation training to your home life and help you and your child find a win-win situation.

Show your child you’re listening.

Everyone wants to be heard and understood. By showing your child that you are willing to see things his way, not only are you helping to create an environment of respect and trust, you’re also modeling empathy as an important social skill. The best way to demonstrate understanding is to listen to your child’s point of view without interrupting, re-state what you think you heard and how he must be feeling.

“I see that you’re really excited about all your Halloween candy. It looks delicious! You want to eat it all up tonight.”

Explain your point of view.

When coming to the negotiation table, it’s important for both parties to be heard. This helps to keep things respectful. State your case honestly but without criticism.

“I’m worried that if you eat all that sugar before bedtime, you’ll get wound up and have a hard time falling asleep.”

Stay open to hearing his response, even if you don’t like the message or the way is was said.

“I don’t care. I don’t want to go to bed. I’m not tired.”

If your child disregards what you have to say and pushes for what he wants, continue to give your point of view.

“But I am, and so is your dad.”

Problem-solve together.

Get your child involved in finding a solution. Summarize the problem and invite your child to problem solve with you. This way he will have a say and you both can find an answer you can live with.

“You want to stay up late and eat all your candy, and I want to go to bed. Hmm. We have a problem. What are some ideas on how we can solve it together?”

Brainstorm together, and don’t dismiss any ideas, even the silly ones. This is another opportunity for your child to feel heard without judgement. Be willing to consider a compromise that will allow your child some leeway. For example, consider allowing your child to have a small amount of candy, even if you wish he wouldn’t eat any at all before bedtime.

Stay firm and focused.

Just because you’re willing to hear things out doesn’t mean you’re being a pushover. If your conversation gets side-tracked, it’s important to firmly but gently steer things back and focus on the objective. If you start feeling impatient or angry, give yourself a breather, re-group, and calmly re-state the goal.

“I see that both of us are coming up with ideas, but your ideas are all on how you can eat more candy. I can’t let you eat all that sugar tonight. We need to come up with something that will work for both of us.”

After you’ve both come up with ideas, summarize them, and find a few options that you both can live with. Give your child ownership of the solution by letting him choose which one to do.

“Alright, so I think the best options are: you can eat just one piece of candy tonight, before you brush your teeth, or you can eat three pieces of candy after breakfast tomorrow morning. Which one would you rather do?”

Have a fallback alternative.

Make sure you are prepared with a consequence for your child trying to re-negotiate with you, or not sticking to the agreement. In order to make sure the terms are met, clearly communicate your expectations and limits beforehand.

“Okay, so here’s what we’ll do: every night this week, before bedtime, you’ll eat one piece of Halloween candy, brush your teeth, and go straight to bed. If you can’t stick to this, the candy will get locked in the cabinet until you have better self control. Understand?”

Keep in mind that while finding a win-win solution is a way to keep both of you happy, some things, like bedtime or homework, need to be non-negotiable. Often children act like little lawyers on every rule parents have set because they are attempting to make a power play and test to see if you’ll stick to your word. In these situations, it’s best to calmly remind him of the rule, explain one reason why you aren’t willing to budge, and leave it at that.

Remember, as a parent, you are the executive officer of your household. The best executives are equipped with negotiations training to making long-lasting and successful relationships. If you are confident, open-minded and fair, you will provide your child with a foundation of trust and respect that will last a lifetime.

Paisley Hansen
She is a freelance writer and expert in fleece fabric, and health and beauty. When she isn't writing she can usually be found reading a good book.
Paisley Hansen

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