Useful Tips for Negotiating With Your Child

December 01, 2018

While it’s vital you teach your child about discipline and structure, it’s also important that your son or daughter know how to make decisions on her or his own. It’s good to look for opportunities to negotiate with your child on matters that have a bit of wiggle room, such as what to wear or what to eat (as long as it’s healthy). Learning how to negotiate with your child is a skill that benefits both of you, so you may as well learn how to do it right.

Keep Your Cool

No matter how exasperated you may become with your child offering counterarguments or excuses for certain choices, it’s vital you remain calm. You likely already know your son or daughter can keep an argument or conversation going from sunup to sundown, and you also probably know your child knows she or he can outlast you in a disagreement. For that reason, you have to do everything you can to stay calm and actually listen to what your child is saying rather than dismiss it.

Offer Choices

Children and parents don’t see the world the same way, there’s no doubt about that, and you have more knowledge and insight than your child. This all boils down to the fact that you should offer your child choices rather than telling him or her there’s only one option. When kids feel like they’re given options rather than orders, they develop a sense of independence.

That being said, be prepared for your child to reject all the options you offer, no matter how generous you may feel you’re being. Should this happen, that’s when you have to put your foot down and let him or her know you’ve given all the choices currently on the table. This is a good way to prepare kids for making hard choices later on in life.

Don’t Be Afraid To Table Discussions

Say you’re in a department store and your child wants a game or toy you don’t approve of. Some may see this as a teachable moment, but the truth of the matter is that you can shelve that teachable moment for when you get home rather than negotiate then and there in the middle of the store.

The reasoning behind this is that you may accidentally give your kids the impression they can get whatever they want when they want if they frame their argument the right way. Saving a discussion for later gives you the time and space to break down your reasoning to explain your position on the matter, something you may not have time for in the middle of the store. To help prevent an embarrassing public meltdown, let your son or daughter know you can come back later or order the game or toy online.

Give Them Some of the Power

You’re the parent, true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t let your child have a few slivers of independence and decision-making power. Before turning down a choice or argument outright, see if you can give your son or daughter a bit of power.

For instance, if your child is a picky eater, provide easy options for healthy items you know they like and might choose: “Do you want eggs and toast, or cereal and fruit.” If they don’t want either, gently let them know there are no other options and they have to make a choice.

This keeps kids in the driver’s seat, but makes them think about how they’re going to get to where they want to go. You aren’t saying no to the tablet, you just want your kid to think about why she or he wants to make a specific decision.

Here at Little Ones Too Nursery and Montessori School, we want to help you help your child grow and become independent while still respecting you as a parent. Put these tips to good use to better negotiate and work with your child.   


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