Why Children Negotiate?
More and more often, we hear children arguing and negotiating with their parents. Yet, many parents do not have children who negotiate and argue all the time.
How do they accomplish this?
children only negotiate with parents who negotiate! Yes, it’s quite simple. In working with families of all blends and sizes and backgrounds, this remarkably straightforward truth remains unchanging.
Over recent years, it seems that we have been taught to give our children a voice in parenting decisions. This is a bad choice and it shows up every day of your life. If your children or adolescent gains any advantage through argument and negotiation.
Once the door to negotiation is open, you find yourself living in a world of constant re-evaluation and questioning. The negotiation becomes relentless. And the more you “give in” to negotiations, the more life slowly becomes a series of arguments that waste time and energy. Your child can’t know what limits are best for them. I don’t quite understand how this has evolved over the years.
But many of us find ourselves arguing with our kids about healthy limits. Whether it’s TV time, grand theft auto, Facebook, or texting, we end up trying to justify our limits. As soon as we do this, the game is over. We have given a voice to the negotiation. Therefore, we end up in constant negotiation.
We feel like we have to get them to understand. Why they can’t stay up till 1 is on a school night even if they claim that they don’t need to sleep. Or we want them to just accept that they can’t have an open Facebook page with personal information at 13. Or even that a $400 iPhone is not a given for a 15-year-old. And the list goes on and on.
But here’s the bottom line: If you negotiate over limits, you will always be negotiating over limits. And the problem then becomes one of simple exhaustion. They wear you down. The more you argue, the more your children will come with the reason to argue back. You simply will not win based upon rationalizing with your children. Never.
You will never win the argument! So what’s the answer?
Simply stop negotiating, and decide upon limits without trying to justify them. You will see that this evokes a huge drama for many of you as your negotiator steps it into high gear. The fact that you now walk away rather than arguing. This action will create more drama for your children temporarily. Your children will not like it because they are losing power and they should lose power when it comes to setting healthy limits. They will not know that it’s better to eat their veggies than to eat ice cream. They will not know that it’s better to get to bed early and awake and refresh. They will not know that violent videos shape their aggression at home and school. They will not even know that 4800 text messages a month are interfering with their academic performance.
These are just a sample of situations where you don’t want to argue. Instead, your life will get better by setting firm strong limits and sticking to them. When you set a limit, it must be clear that this is a non-negotiable relatively permanent decision. Not with anger. Not with rudeness. Now with frustration or defensiveness. Just with firm consistent resolve.
Be like the wall. Stand strong and clear and disinterested in the negotiations.
While the drama may be extreme for a while, it will pass. You want to make parenting easier, don’t you? Set limits and stick to them. Be firm and strong, and your children will learn to respect limits without constant reminders or repeated consequences.