Negotiating With Children
The wonders of parents bring many joys and excitement to our lives, redefining how we perceive the amazing part of life. Inevitably, there are also challenges that raising children can bring. We have all seen the public temper tantrums of young children in grocery stores or parking lots, that would cause any parent to blush. While these moments of extreme emotion are natural and likely to happen at some point or another, there are also strategies to negotiate with your children to help guide them through life and discover their way.
As children age, they become more adept at understanding the emotions in themselves and in others, however, the younger the children, the less likely they are to emotionally regulate, especially in times of struggle. This is an important place for parents to step in, as they are uniquely positioned to help support children in discovering that emotions are normal. While any emotion can feel extreme, it is just a natural part of the human experience. Emotions don't just affect children. Parents need to be mindful of their emotions which are also a natural part of life and normal response, as our little ones can trigger emotions in us as well.
Listening to your children is one key component of navigating negotiations, however, this can also be one of the more challenging pieces. When faced with a frustrated child, taking the time to listen to and understand what they are feeling and helping them find a solution can be integral in navigating a complex and challenging set of feelings. This positive modeling can teach your child positive behavior, emotional regulation and empathy.
Our children will look to us for answers, but it is important to understand that including them in the conversation to find solutions, can give them ownership of the decision-making process. By teaching your children to find solutions, you create a community in your household that values the perspective of all members which is a valuable lesson for future interactions. While not every solution they propose will come to fruition, talking through this process with your children can give them a positive environment to place their energy.
Children require boundaries for safe and healthy environments that must be set by the adults in their lives. For adults, it is important to understand the difference between immovable boundaries and when there are limits that can be discussed as a family. While sometimes discussions are warranted, it is also necessary to enforce standards when children push back, as negotiating does not always mean that everyone always gets everything they want. When setting rules for the family that can be determined and agreed to by all members, you can set integral boundaries as a group before things go awry. By establishing a practice of family circles as a normal family activity, you can determine limits as a family during normal times, so that every family member can gain ownership of the set rules of the household.
Navigating negotiations with adults can be eased with some negotiation training professional development. While these tactics are useful, children add an additional layer of lacking awareness and emotional maturity. It is important to remember that you will not win every argument, nor should you. However, setting essential boundaries, keeping them safe and knowing that their best interest is at the heart of the conversation are important things to keep in mind while negotiating with a young child. Consider using some strategies from negotiations training with your children with the caveat that they lack some of the processing abilities that adults hold, so there may be additional nuances that you need to navigate as you work with your child.
Negotiating with anyone can take you on a roller coaster of back and forth, and with children, they cannot process information in the same way as adults. As you consider parenting, you can introduce some useful and healthy strategies to help you and your children navigate the process a bit more smoothly.