You bring home your sweet baby from the hospital, and it is crazy! You are now responsible for this little being. And you can’t imagine life outside of . . .
round the clock feedings, baby cries, and poopy diapers.
Then one day those sweet little babies turn into independent seeking toddlers, and as parents we can’t seem to get them to understand basic health and safety . . .
You should brush your teeth everyday.
You should eat vegetables.
You should look both ways before crossing the street.
You should stay with mommy (or your grown-up) when you’re in the store instead of wandering off.
We aren’t trying to make them live in desperate and horrible conditions, as someone on the outside might think, if they were to see your toddler who has turned into a puddle because . . . they just can’t eat their vegetables today.
Yes, it seems like these are reasonable expectations, and yet they want to fight you on everything.
How to Help Your kids become independent
Of course, there are some things that we must take a stand and say no to our kids. But many decisions that arise during the day, we can give our kids the chance to make a choice and exercise their independence.
- What shorts do you want to wear . . . the blue or red?
- What shoes do you want to wear . . . tennis shoes or sandals?
- Do you want to watch your show now or after dinner?
- Should we have carrots or peas for dinner?
Should we negotiate with our kids?
Negotiations are apart of our everyday lives as adults. We negotiate consciously and subconsciously at work, in our families, and with friends. Teaching our kids to negotiate is really important for helping them develop their critical thinking skills. Negotiation can even be a tool to help our kids learn how to anticipate what they need to do before coming to parents with a request.
Tips for Negotiating with your kids
#1 Make sure that this is an issue that is negotiable
You aren’t going to let your child negotiate with you if it’s a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation. And there are many variables to a circumstance that will require you to take a firm stand and say no.
If you need tips on holding your ground when you need to say no, check out these 3 little words that will help you stay strong. (three little words linked to https://www.positiveparentingsolutions.com/parenting/end-child-nagging-negotiating-with-just-three-simple-words)
There are times that would be a good time to get a little negotiating practice in with your kids. We ae going to use the example of your child wanting to play at the neighbor’s house. This is a good time to negotiate because it’s a safe situation and there is enough time to allow for playing with a friend.
#2 Negotiate so that there is a win-win solution
You want to choose a situation where both you and your child will be able to walk away feeling success and that both needs are met. A win-win solution is encouraging for you child because they will have to give up something or take some kind of action to create the win-win solution. This will help them to build their understanding of what to anticipate in a situation where they want to spend time playing.
#3 Explain your needs explicitly & Listen to their needs
We are using a scenario where your child is asking to play at the neighbor’s house.
Your child wants to go to the neighbor’s house to play, but you need to leave for an appointment in 30 minutes. Make sure you state what has to happen in order for you to leave on time.
Then be sure to listen so that you are clear about what your child is wanting to happen.
In this example, all the kids have to be ready to leave the house in exactly 30 minutes.
#4 Give support to find a solution
Help your child see what needs to happen in order for your needs to be met. You can then ask, how can you help so that we both get what we want?
In this example, I would explain that the younger siblings need to be dressed and have their shoes on. The diaper bag needs more diapers and everyone needs a snack. Then I would ask, “how can you help get ready to go and have time to play?”
#5 Find a solution that works for you both
Finding a solution that works for both you and your child will take some practice. It’s helpful to ask lots of questions and come up with a few different possible ways to solve the problem.
Here’s an example of what the conversation might look like in the scenario of your child wanting to play at the neighbor’s house . . .
Mom: What could you do to help us leave on time and still play with a friend?
Child: How about you pack the diaper bag and get the snacks ready? Then you will have 15 minutes to play before we leave.
This conversation has helped solve the problem and given the child the opportunity to be heard, create a solution, and practice critical thinking skills.
In the future, we hope to see the child anticipating your response to what what they want to do. So if it’s to play at a friend’s house, your child will eventually come to you already prepared for your response.
We usually think of negotiations in negative terms, but really negotiation is about hearing and seeing the other person. It’s less about getting what you want, but meeting those really deep desires that people have to be seen and heard.
Just like you use negotiation and influence at work to build a team up and give your co-workers a voice, you can also use these same skills in your home to help your children feel secure, safe, and that their voices matter.