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When And How To Negotiate With Your Child

When And How To Negotiate With Your Child 

Does it happen that everytime you tell your child ‘NO’ it result in a situation of meltdown? We often observe that kids cannot take No as an answer. My kids give me a tough time when I refuse their unreasonable demand. Either they keep asking again and again till I say yes or there starts a tug-of-war with series of arguments. As a result, I often find myself in a negotiating with my kids, trying to come to an agreement. 

Negotiating with kids is no less than a skill we need to learn as parents. It usually means coming to a mutual agreement through discussions. But children are smart and often try to negotiate ‘around’ us to get the result they want. The question that arises is when & how to negotiate with your child. 

If negotiation with kids begin after we have shared our decision, it’s not a negotiation. The child doesn’t agree to it and is making us rethink of our decisions. He/she is trying to get their way and not find a common ground. Negotiations happen before we share our response to the child’s demand.

A lot of parents feel that negotiation isn’t a good idea because it dilutes the parental authority, and sends the message that kids can argue or challenge them at every turn. However that’s not the case. Negotiation means considering what each person needs or wants, and then figuring out how to make it happen. It involves discussing with your child, hearing them out, expressing your views and mutually coming to a conclusion. 

When and how to negotiate with your child
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Here are few things to consider while you negotiate with your child:
1 Take a moment to think and answer. 

Don’t give a hasty reply to your child’s demand. An answer given in hastily makes you regret later when you think with a calm head. And changing the answer later to a No leads to stress and argument between the parent and the child. It is always better to tell your child to wait, you will think and reply in some time.

2. Do not delay your answer for a long time. 

Delaying will create more frustration in your child. This will lead to constant nagging and the likelihood of this will be your saying a No. Hence a stressful situation will build up creating disparity and breach of trust.

3. Be honest to your child.

If you feel the request made by the child needs a father’s permission then tell your child about it. That way your child understands what to expect and knows the set boundaries too. You are showing that his/her request is important to you and certain decisions need the permission of both parents.

4. Listen to your child objectively and come up with a decision or an alternative

Do not evaluate what you are hearing till the child has finished. This is important to get clarity on what the child is actually wanting and what his/her thoughts & feelings are about it. After hearing, come to a mid-point where both you and the child can agree.

5. Set house rules

Make it clear that parents decision will be final. Talk gently with respect and listen calmly with patience. Try to come to a mid-point. Be firm in your final decision. 

Let me give you an example – 

If we have an ice cream tub at home, it is the first thing my kids want to eat every morning. As soon as they wake up, they rush to the fridge, grab a spoon and dig into the tub. Now ice cream at 7 am every morning is something not acceptable, especially if they haven’t even brushed their teeth. Now if I say NO, there begins the tantrums. So how do I negotiate? My aim isn’t to stop kids from eating ice cream but to not make it a habit of eating it as the first thing in the morning. It took me a week to explain them, but after much ‘negotiation’ we came to a conclusion that ice cream can be eaten in the morning twice a week but only after brushing their teeth and preferably finishing the breakfast. 

Negotiating with growing children requires patience but it’s an important way to communicate and make kids co-operate. We can easily scold the child and make him listen to us by force or authority but that only instills fear. Negotiating, in a way, help kids express themselves and make them feel a part of the decision-making. Such decisions are more acceptable versus those imposed by force. As they grow up, they learn to think objectively, listen to all sides and come up with creative solutions. Aren’t those the skills we all want our kids to learn? 

This post is part of the #BlogchatterA2Z challenge run by Blogchatter

M – Mindful Parenting: How To Be A Mindful Parent 

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