Simple Do’s and Don’t To Remember When Negotiating With Your Kids
“When our children perceive us as steady and calm – regardless of their moods or behavior – they can relax, knowing the can rely on us to get them through the challenging moments of their lives.” – Susan Stiffelman
Negotiating with your kids is the best way to avoid power struggles and to “figure it out”, whatever “it” is. It’s coming to an agreement rather than getting involved in an argument, it’s working together as parent and child to negotiate issues that come up.
As you negotiate with your kid, it is often easy to fall into some situations that don’t work for either side.
Here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts to remember during your negotiations:
- Remain calm if you want to remain in control in any negotiation.
- Kids know how to push your buttons, so ignore emotional outbursts, and remain focused on the problem.
- Direct and redirect kids toward their choices.
- Be consistent in motivating kids and using positive language.
- Show your kids that you have faith in them.
- Be clear regarding what is or is not negotiable.
- Reward kids’ efforts to participate in the negotiations appropriately – meet them halfway.
This is Tony’s Story…
Tony was a bright, talkative, fifteen-year-old, only child. His parents usually enjoyed his stories about school and life. But like any teenager, he sometimes liked to vent (complain about school, and share his frustration about his peers or teachers). He had no siblings and just a small group of close friends, so often he vented when he was with his mom while they were in the car on the way home from school. She was a good listener.
Tony’s parents asked for my parent training services when Tony was turning sixteen because his dad felt frustrated for getting into what he described as “pointless long arguments over nothing” with Tony. Tony’s dad felt singled out since Tony didn’t argue with his mom nearly as much. After some investigation, I realized these arguments mostly began on the way home from school when Tony’s dad, not his mom, picked him up.
John, Tony’s dad, like most men (and dads) is a problem-solver. He heard what sounded like a problem, and he immediately jumped into a problem-solving mode! Most dads can relate to this. However, John was also a problem-solver professionally. So, it was difficult for him to, as he put it, “turn it off”. Tony just enjoyed venting after school. He wasn’t looking for anyone to solve his problems; he just talked to his dad as he did with his mom on the way home from school. But often, he would find himself in the the middle of an argument with his dad. Both felt frustrated and confused.
“John, you can sometimes avoid an argument by ignoring some comments,” I suggested. “Not every word that comes out of your kid’s mouth warrants a response. Sometimes kids just need to vent (or talk/complain about their problems) like adults do. Some kids haven’t fully developed a filter to tell them what to keep inside and what to share.” I continued, “Your son is learning this gradually. He actually solves half of his problems just by talking about them. He does this successfully with his mom. He trusts you, and that’s why he feels safe that he could vent without being judged.”
Then I offered a suggestion. “Next time Tony starts to vent, just listen, don’t offer advice. Validate his feelings, whether you agree or not, and let your son express himself.” Two things happened as a result of Tony’s dad taking this advice:
- Tony and his dad stopped getting into arguments.
- Tony actually approached his dad for help with problems.
When your child feels the need for help and you are a reliable source for assistance and support, then your child will seek your help.
As a parent strategist, Dr. Sherkat has many tools to help you strengthen your parenting skills.
She speaks to various groups…you can Contact her for your next parenting workshop, conference or parenting event.