Talking With Children

How to Negotiate With Your Kids

Image of a Bored KidThere are many teachable moments in your kids’ lives when you can prevent them from making poor choices. At the very least, it is possible to successfully talk with your children and negotiate alternatives with them.

To accomplish this and decrease power struggles, you need tools – most importantly, the power of negotiation! As a parent, YOU are in charge. Here are 5 secrets to remaining in control:

FIVE secrets to your success in the art of negotiation:

ONE: Manage your emotions well before you enter into any discussion. Going into any confrontation feeling angry decreases your ability to stay in control of the situation. The first step is to gain control. Give yourself 10 seconds to take a few deep breaths, pay attention to your posture, and relax your face. Starting and maintaining a discussion in a calm manner keeps you in control and in charge.

TWO: Listen and hear your child first. Validate their feelings. Remember, you don’t have to agree in order to validate. Create time for this important step. It only takes a couple of minutes for a kid to tell you what s/he needs to say. Invest this time to hear your kid and just listen. Make sure you make a short and clear statement indicating you heard them & validate their feelings.

THREE: When communicating, be respectful and speak clearly and calmly so you will be heard. When you feel respected by someone who wants to talk to you, do you feel like interacting with that person? Kids are in tune with your emotions. They pick up on subtleties that hint at whether they are being patronized or respected. So if you want to be successful at negotiating with them, remain in control. In order to remain in control, you want to keep them engaged. For them to remain engaged, they must feel respected.

FOUR: Define the problem clearly and offer solutions. Be prepared to offer choices and alternatives you can deliver. To achieve this step successfully, you need two things: First, make sure you and your kids are clear about what the problem is, and second, know what motivates your kids. What is THE thing that they are willing to work for? Knowing this, you can negotiate.
You may be surprised to see that by the time you and your kid spell out exactly what the problem is, your kid has already come up with a reasonable solution. If that doesn’t happen, then focus on: what motivates your kids. What are they willing to work for, or “earn?” That is what gives you extra negotiation power.

FIVE: Foster good choices by your kids and be willing to meet them half way when you see that they are:
– Participating in the negotiation appropriately
– Willing to compromise
– Willing to work for the incentive (alternatives) you offered

The art and process of negotiating has to be taught – usually over and over! This teachable moment is very valuable in your child’s life and it’s important to guide your kid through the process. Take a few seconds to give positive feedback.

IMPORTANT HINTS, to assist you in talking with your kids:

Image of Father and Son Negotiating* Time for a break?   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 make sure to follow through.

* 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.

*Be prepared to walk away in any negotiation.
Sometimes it may feel 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 only after you have made several attempts to help/guide your kid through appropriate negotiations.

This is taken from my book, in a chapter titled: “reduce power struggles through the art of negotiation.”  Order your copy today!

, , , , ,

Comments are closed.