5 Secrets for Successful Negotiating With Your Kids
One of the best ways to reduce power struggles with your kids is to learn the art of negotiating with them.
There are many moments in the first twelve years of your kids’ lives when you can prevent them from making poor choices. At the very least, it is possible to negotiate successful alternatives with them and avoid power struggles. To accomplish such negotiation and to decrease power struggles in your home, you need tools – most importantly, the power of negotiation.
So, today I would like to begin a small series of articles that will help you negotiate with power:
5 secrets to help you succeed in the art of negotiation with your kids:
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. To accomplish this goal, take a moment and manage your emotions before you even confront your kids about any issue.
- Give yourself ten seconds to take a few deep breaths
- Pay attention to your posture
- Relax your face
This seems very simple, but starting a discussion in a calm manner keeps you in control and in charge.
TWO: Listen and hear your child first. Validate his or her feelings.
Remember, you don’t have to agree in order to validate. Create time for this important step. Based on my observations, it takes less than two minutes, uninterrupted, for a kid to tell you what he needs to say. Invest this time to hear your kid and just listen. Sometimes, it may be necessary to guide your kid a little (especially kids under the age of three). However, the main goal is first to hear your child. Feel free to redirect your kid to stay focused. It is common for younger kids to begin talking and then wander into an unrelated tangent. Once they’ve expressed to you what they need to say, you should make a short and clear statement indicating you heard them, and then validate their feelings.
For example: If your son comes to you and says it isn’t fair that his entire ninth grade class gets to go on a field trip to a factory and he doesn’t get to go, hear him out, and then offer something like this: “You feel it’s unfair that your whole class gets to go on this field trip and you can’t. You feel upset.” This repeating what you heard shows you are listening and have empathy for him. Now, he may not be able to go due to a valid reason such as a consequence of his own actions (poor choices) or maybe he has severe allergies and the factory environment is not safe for him. It doesn’t matter at that moment. He just needs to feel validated. Remember, he still won’t be able to go on the field trip!
THREE: When communicating, be respectful, and speak clearly and calmly so you will be heard.
When you don’t 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.
Your kids are the love of your life, your reason to live, the reason you make such huge sacrifices. They give meaning to your existence. Try to remember that when you’ve become frustrated by their stupid choices and feel like they are put on this earth just to ruin your youth!
In my next article, we’ll complete the 5 steps for successful 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.