Negotiating: An Artform

Establishing boundaries is a tough job, especially if boundaries have been vague or non-existent.  We all work better within boundaries whether they are set by teachers, parents, bosses, doctors, etc.  or ourselves.  Boundaries include bedtime, curfews, fences – how far away from home a child can go, and time frames – starting and ending times (school, work, etc.)  But what about boundaries in negotiating?  When can a child be “right” and when does a parent “over-rule?”

Negotiating is a great tool for children to learn and important for parents to understand.  If you are negotiating a business transaction, you would never interrupt the other party and say his idea was stupid and that your idea was best, end of discussion.  Well . . . often times we do that very thing to our children.

Negotiating means to give and take until an amiable conclusion is reached for both parties.   Children need to be taught that if you, as a parent give a little, they must also.  But if a parent over-rules every suggestion given by a child, the situation is no longer a negotiation.  It is now a dictatorship.

Sometimes a child’s suggestions in a negotiating situation are out in left field.  As a parent, your job is to help them at least think of ideas within the ballpark.  This is called parenting.  Your ideas and suggestions can help a child learn the art of negotiating which will help them throughout life.  But, it can’t be done in the heat of an angry moment.  Choose a “calm” time to work through a situation and always be in control of your emotions.  After all, you are the parent and should be setting the example!

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