Does it seem like every time you tell your child `No,` it turns into a tug-of-war` Many parents find themselves in a negotiation with their children when they are met with any kind of resistance. Negotiating is an important life skill. By definition, it means coming to an agreement through discussion. It`s about finding a middle or common ground. But negotiation can also mean to`get over`or`around`something
Discussions with your child that take place`after`you`ve given your decision are not negotiations!`What`s happening in those cases is that your child is negotiating`around`you. They are trying to get their way, not find common ground How to Stop Over-Negotiating
If you are a parent who negotiates constantly with your child, you probably feel like you`re living with a little lawyer who `objects` to every rule and request and wears you down with endless questions and challenges.`It`s much easier to avoid over-negotiating with your child rather than try to fix a situation after you`ve already given an answer. Here five steps you can take now to be more effective:
- Take a moment to think before giving an answer.`Parents are busy. Kids sometimes have fifty requests in an hour. It`s easy to just say no without really considering the request. It`s quicker and less stressful in the moment. But in the long run, it can actually increase stress caused by arguing and possibly regretting an answer given in haste. There`s nothing wrong with saying to your child, `Let me think about that for a few minutes,` even if the request seems minor.
- Think about the request and give a timely response.`If you tell your child you`re going to consider his request for a few minutes, make sure it truly is only for a few minutes. Don`t take an hour to get back with him. Delaying your answer will only frustrate him, leading him to hound you, and increase the likelihood you will snap out a `no,` just to get him to stop. If you need to wait in order to gather more information before making a decision, tell him up front. That way, your child has a timetable and knows what to expect. You`re also modeling important life skills. It`s respectful to get back to someone in a timely manner, and you are following through on your word. You are showing him that his request is important to you.
- Consider why you`re saying no before you give an answer.`Negotiating typically happens when a parent says no to something a child wants. Kids have a lot of `wants.` They want to go places, do things, buy things`it can get overwhelming. Sometimes we give an automatic no to a request without really considering if the answer could be yes. For example, your 6-year-old asks if she can finger paint. Your instinct is to say no. It`ll cause a mess and you don`t feel like cleaning it up. But after you`ve said no, you regret your decision. You realize it was a missed opportunity to keep her busy and engage in a creative activity. Changing your mind after she`s repeatedly pleaded with you makes it look like you`ve `given in` even though that`s not the reason you changed your mind. This only encourages her to keep trying to negotiate `around` you in the future.
- Gather all the information you need`before`giving an answer and make your expectations clear.`If your 10-year-old son says, `Can I go to Sanjeev`s house`` make sure you know exactly what that means. How will he get there, who will be home, what will they be doing` Make it clear under what conditions the answer is yes. For example, `You can go to your friend`s house as long as his parent is home and you stay in their home to play.` This can help avoid the pitfall of having to rescind permission upon hearing that Johnny`s parents aren`t home and he is having twenty of his closest friends over for some unsupervised fun.
- Involve your child in the decision, if appropriate.`Not every situation is negotiable, but some are. There`s nothing wrong with talking to your child about`why`they are making a particular request. It can get them thinking about the pros and cons of situations. Talking about a request does not mean you are committing to granting it.