How Parents Can Effectively Negotiate With Their Children

Parents should avoid compromises with children during tense times

A mother having a discussion with her son.
A mother having a discussion with her son.. Tetra Images/Getty Images

Parents who've attempted to negotiate with children when emotions are running high know that trying to reason with kids in this state is an exercise in futility. The children typically don't respond well, and parents often lose patience.

When attempting to communicate with an angry child, a parent might snap, "Are you even listening to me?" And if parents don't verbalize this question, they certainly might think it.

But caretakers of children need not grow flustered while speaking with them. They can achieve this by only trying to compromise with children when the kids are in an emotional state that will allow them to listen and think logically and rationally. With this understanding, negotiating with children is much more likely to be effective.

Negotiate With Children When All Parties Are Calm

What's the best way for parents to reason with children? They should never try to broker an agreement with a child when emotions are heightened. That's because it's tough for anyone to listen and heed advice or direction during times of tension, and that goes double for children.

When parents try to communicate with their children when any party is upset, it's unlikely that the children will remember the message their parents want to get across. Instead, they're likely to remember the emotions involved. Accordingly, parents should remember their child's age and maturity, and depending on the issue at hand, consider letting feelings settle before reasoning or negotiating with the youth.

This strategy will allow parents to have a more effective conversation with children at a later time. Of course, this advice doesn't apply when children are involved in situations that put them in harm's way.

Why Actions Speak Louder Than Words During Compromises

Attempts to compromise with children will always go more smoothly if parents remain even-keeled.

Hence, it's important for parents not to react angrily to children but to speak softly and gently to them. This gives children the chance to reflect on their actions rather than to focus on their parents' anger. It also allows parents to remain in control.

A parent might tell a child, "If you pick up your toys right now and go brush your teeth, we'll watch a movie together afterward. Otherwise, it's bedtime in five minutes." If the child does not take the appropriate action within the time allotted, the parent should calmly prepare to put the child to bed. Not reacting angrily to the child allows the little one to reflect on the consequence.

The next morning at breakfast, the parent might again offer the child the opportunity to watch a film if the child picks up his toys and brushes his teeth. This negotiation is likely to pay off since the parent and child are both calm in this setting rather than butting heads over the child's yet-to-be cleaned mess. During calm times, children can think and learn at their best.

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