Should you consult with your kids or lay down the rules? Are there times when it’s okay to negotiate and concede to your child’s demands?
Does it seem like your kid is almost always trying to push your boundaries? Does it feel like whenever you tell them “no” it turns into a tug-of-war? Parents can find it frustrating having to deal with resistance from their kids.
So, when should you let your kid get their way? When should you put your foot down? Should you ever be open to negotiating with your kid?
Negotiate to Improve Life Skills
If an opportunity arises for a teachable moment, then entering negotiations may work to improve your child’s life skills. For example, when your child is demonstrating that they know that in order to receive more value they have to give more value, it may be worth entering a negotiation scenario. Simulating a negotiation with younger kids can form a vital training event that will equip them with useful life skills.
For example, you may promise your daughter an allowance of $10 per week if daily she cleans her room, takes out the trash, and cleans dishes after dinner. If your daughter asks to add vacuuming and doing laundry for an extra $10 to the agreement, then that’s a discussion worth pursuing.
In facilitator-led negotiation simulation training, participants learn how to nurture persuasion skills that many go on to instill in their children. Knowing how to negotiate with your kid in a healthy way, and how to teach them when negotiation is appropriate or not, is integral in forming a parent-child relationship with boundaries but also keeping an open dialogue.
Open discussions may boost the chances of your kid wanting to gain new skills. Any agreements you reach can create incentives for your kid to follow the rules. Simulating a deal may make your kid feel pride in their accomplishments, such as a doubling of their allowance in exchange for increased household chore duties.
Plus, when your kid learns to bargain, they learn to accept that it’s their responsibility to give and gain value. Kids learn to respect their commitments and to value those who keep their word. Negotiation is a skill that will steer kids in their schooling, careers, and relationships.
Negotiate to Set Ground Rules
Some house rules evolve. Other rules may apply to some kids and not to others. For instance, you may have a different set of rules for your kids under 18 to those who are over 18. For older kids, active, ongoing negotiations are an important way to maintain a healthy parent-child relationship.
When your kid reaches a life milestone, you may work together to restructure the existing house rules.
A common debate parents have with teenage kids is when it’s okay to start dating. Dating can be an explosive and emotive topic. You want to balance your kids’ socialization while at the same time guaranteeing their safety. Maybe you feel your kid is moving too fast.
For kids who are ready to date, you might want to discuss:
- How often they can go out on dates.
- How much they can take out of their allowance for each date.
- Who they can date (in terms of age, positive influence, etc.)
- Which activities are suitable dates.
- Which types of dates need a chaperone and which ones won’t.
Don’t Negotiate Firm Rules
Some parents may opt to give in to their kids’ demands. Giving in may buy you some temporary peace, but you may be setting your kid up for failure later in life. When your kid gets away with what they want, you risk your kid becoming an entitled brat.
Since you want to socialize your kid correctly and set them up for success, you may have to learn how to say “no.” In most instances, your “no” should be firm and non-negotiable. A few rules that are usually not up for negotiation include:
- Hygiene: Taking regular baths, cleaning their room, brushing their teeth.
- Studies: Finishing their homework, class projects, and skills training on time.
- Driving: No driving without a license. No driving without an adult present. No driving beyond a specific time at night.
- Alcohol and drugs: Prohibiting the use of recreational drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.
Sometimes you say “no” and your child comes back with a compelling argument. In negotiation training, simulated role plays teach that almost anything can be negotiated. In most cases, be open to reviewing your first answer if your kid comes back with sound reasoning. If the child makes a convincing point, you can consider changing your “no” to a “yes”—with provisions.
An example is when your child wants to host a sleepover. You may initially say no, thinking of all the extra work you will have to put in to entertain other kids. When your child mulls over your answer, they might give reasons that handle all your objections.
Perhaps your kid plans to clean up before and after the sleepover. Your kid might suggest the guests bring along their beddings and sleeping bags. Plus, the other parents have already agreed to drop off and pick up their kids. With your kid addressing your concerns with a solution, you might consider changing your answer.
Though, it’s essential to not make a habit out of going back on your first answer. When you change your mind too often, your kid may stop respecting your answers. Your kid might figure that if they wear you down with arguments you will agree to their demands. To avoid too many counterarguments and over-negotiating, you can:
- Take your time before giving your first reply.
- Gather your evidence and simulate how your response might go before providing your answer.
- Consider why you’re saying no before you say it.
- Explain to your child why your “no” is final.
There are times when it is okay to negotiate with your child, and even times when negotiating can teach your kid life skills. There are other times when negotiating exposes your child to negative influences. As a parent, exercise your authority while considering all your child’s needs.