Archive for Monday, March 23, 2009


Five tips to negotiate with children

March 23, 2009


Children are natural-born negotiators. At a very early age, they realize the word “no” is not the end of the discussion, but the beginning. If you ask a toddler to eat his broccoli and he says no, he intuitively knows you will start making deals. “If you eat your veggies, I’ll give you some ice cream,” is a typical parental response.

Jim Camp, negotiation coach, trainer and author of the book “NO: The Only Negotiating System You Need for Work and Home,” offers these tips for negotiating with your children:

• Start with “no.” Resist the urge to offer a compromise from the get-go. Instead, start by inviting your child to say no to your (better) proposal — but don’t tell her what it is yet. This puts her at ease and gets her paying attention — without an attitude — because she feels you’ve given her an “out.”

• Focus on what you can control. You can’t control the outcome of this discussion, so don’t dwell on the results. Let’s say you want your teen to give up a weekend party to attend a family event. Don’t start thinking about what will happen if he does or doesn’t go. If you do, he’ll sense your desperation and circle in for the kill. Instead, bring all of your focus to your behavior — your calm tone of voice and delivery, listening instead of speaking, and asking good questions, and shaping a solution that he’ll see as being to his advantage.

• Leave all emotions outside the door. Turn your mind into a blank slate. Exercise self-control so you have no expectations, fears or judgments. Above all, don’t be needy during your talk. Don’t lose your temper, beg, scold or try to please. Just stay neutral.

• Get your child spilling the beans. Ask great questions that begin with what, why, and how so he can’t give one-word answers. Find out what your child sees as potential problems and deal breakers. Let’s say the issue is homework. Ask: What purpose does the homework serve? How are these beneficial to you? Get your child talking about all the ways study skills, good grades, following through on commitments, finishing assignments, etc., will be useful to her.

• Build a vision for him. Help your child see how your proposed solution will benefit him. For example, he’s playing too many video games. Because you’ve gathered a lot of information from him, you know that he sees it as his social life, that he can’t think of alternative activities, and that he likes the challenge. Now you have the building blocks for proposing a different solution. You might suggest a real-live play date with a friend, instead of a virtual one online. You might help him see that cutting down on his video time will give him more time to do five other things he loves more.


imastinker 9 years, 2 months ago

I have a policy - no negotiations with terrorists OR kids! If they argue, they get two punishments.

HermioneElliott 9 years, 2 months ago

It sounds like the writer of this article has some really fascinating discussions at home. Why will parents offer the most revolting food to their children and then get bent out of shape when they don't want it? As far as the homework, show them the video of Michele Obama telling the kids how she wanted to have the best grades, so when the other kids made fun of her, she could let it slide right off. Because she got the A. In other words, because she won!

trinity 9 years, 2 months ago

lol ima-that's my kind of parental philosophy! i cringe whenever my darling daughters are "dealing" with their young'uns. geesh all pete. i do not recall bargaining with an obstinant three year old! ;)

fu7il3 9 years, 2 months ago

Negotiation? Since when is parenting a democracy? My dad was more like a facist dictator...

imastinker 9 years, 2 months ago

Informed - that's a good way to have your kids taken away to a place where they DO negotiate with the kids. How dare you discipline them!

kristyj 9 years, 2 months ago

My dad had the best negotiation skills ever- "You can either take out the trash or get a spanking and then take out the trash."

Chris Ogle 9 years, 2 months ago

I had the same answer just about everytime my parents asked me to do something.... Okay

Seems like any other statements just complicated the hell out things (for me)

Christine Pennewell Davis 9 years, 2 months ago

no need to negotiate the words I said so work, so does grounded, so does you lose all things you like, like a life of any kind outside of this house. Our oldest once had everything but his bed and cloths removed from his room for thinking he did not need to listen and could do what ever he wanted, that was the last time, he got the idea and now know you do not get to do what ever you want as an adult either. There are reasons for teaching kids that it is not about them and only them and they are not the boss. It is called real life.

Chris Ogle 9 years, 2 months ago

"he got the idea and now know you do not get to do what ever you want as an adult either"

Darn it momma, when AARP started reminding me of being in the farts club.... thought.. finally I get to what I want to..... WRONG

jonas_opines 9 years, 2 months ago

No one's mentioned "pick your battles."

Confrontation 9 years, 2 months ago

No wonder this country is full of annoying little brats! Negotiating is for parents who don't have any control over their children or respect from their children. Everyone wants to be their child's best friend.

imastinker 9 years, 2 months ago

Confrontation - have you listened to parents? Many of them are big annoying brats! Sometimes I feel sorry for the kids.

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