How to Use Negotiation Skills With Your Kids
“I love to play hide and seek with my kid, but some days my goal is to find a hiding place where he can’t find me until after high school” – Author Unknown
Power struggles happen in every home. I’ve known great parents who still get into occasional power struggles with their kids. Let’s be realistic; I’m not suggesting it’s possible to eliminate power struggles and arguments altogether. The goal here is to decrease power struggles significantly and create a happier environment in your home.
In my last 2 blog posts, Negotiating With Kids and Reducing Power Struggles, I shared 5 secrets to help you succeed in the art of negotiating with your kids. Today, I am going to continue with the subject and share some…
Important Hints for Successful Negotiations:
Although you want your kid to participate in any negotiations you might have, you need to stay in charge…these 3 hints will help you do that:
- Time for a break? Ultimately, you are in charge. You know what is best for your kids, and you want them to make good choices. So, for whatever reason, IF your kids don’t want to participate in this process appropriately, or if they’re unwilling to make any compromises, offer a short break (a time away from the process). Tell your kids you are willing to continue the discussion after the break. Then follow through, and make sure you return to the negotiation after your kids have had a break.
- Always define what is non-negotiable. For example, if something is impossible to attain or if something will violate the law or impact their safety, then it is non-negotiable. Be firm and clear about this fact.
- Be prepared to walk away in any negotiation. Sometimes, you may feel it’s impossible to help your kids reach an agreement (although they may be very able, they are not willing). In any successful negotiation, it is important to be able to walk away. You could calmly say, “We can negotiate and meet some of your needs, or IF you choose not to participate appropriately, we can end this discussion right now. I’ll walk away and you’ll get nothing.” Simplify the language for younger kids. You should offer this option only after you have made several attempts to help/guide your kid through appropriate negotiations.
Negotiating with your kids should be a win-win situation…
This is David’s story: One of the parents I had the pleasure of training years ago was the successful CEO of a large company. David, a single parent, had two kids. He told me that the steps I taught him were the same as the steps he’d used over the years in negotiating multi-million dollar deals. He was frustrated because he hadn’t been able to use the same set of skills at home with his kids! He wanted to know why he had such difficulty “dealing with” his young kids (eight and twelve years old at the time).
I reminded him that at work, he was “dealing with” peers – adults with a similar knowledge of business and negotiation skills. At home, however, he was “dealing with” kids whose frontal lobe development wasn’t as advanced as that of an adult. As smart as his kids were, they were not adults with his level of negotiation skills. He, as the dad, had the role of teacher and negotiator. David’s goal in parent training included understanding his children’s perspective. From there, he could modify his expectation and adjust his negotiation skills to teach and guide his kids more successfully. After a couple of months of training, David was very successful in achieving his goals. His children felt respected and heard. David learned to speak at their level and explain choices to his kids in a clear and effective way.
In my next article, I’ll share some simple Do’s and Don’ts for negotiating with your kids.
As a parent strategist, Dr. Sherkat has many tools to help you strengthen your parenting skills.
She speaks to various groups…you can hire her for your next parenting workshop, conference or parenting event.