How to Be a Better Negotiator with Your Kids

How to Be a Better Negotiator with Your Kids

Rather than fight or give in to your child, use these tips to reach an agreement!

Every kid’s got a least one thing he refuses to do. Whether it’s eat his peas, tie his shoes, clean his room or go to bed, the response to your request always seems to be “No!”

If you’re wondering how to get your child to listen — rather than engage in battle — try these tips that’ll help you become a better negotiator.

It’s not always easy to figure out why kids won't do something. So instead of driving yourself crazy trying to determine what’s behind your little one’s obstinence, see if you can work around it.

For instance, if she won’t eat the peas in her pasta primavera, ask her which veggies she’s willing to try. Your overall goal is to feed her a nutritious meal, so if she goes for the carrots and red peppers, let the peas go. Giving her some say over what she eats is a better strategy in the long run.

Brush Those Teeth
Getting kids to listen takes a great deal of patience, so if your child refuses to brush his teeth, or eats the toothpaste, try making a deal: Let him squeeze the toothpaste onto the brush (practice makes perfect) then ask him to brush for as long as it takes to hum his ABCs. That way, he will feel involved and will learn a new routine all on his own.


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Most kids would choose playing (or just about anything) over sitting down with a math worksheet, so be empathetic and flexible if you can.

If your child is engaged in a game, give her a five- or 10-minute warning that homework time is approaching. And don’t automatically say no on days when she wants to shoot some hoops or watch a show before she hits the books. If she feels you understand and respect her need to sometimes put her work off until later, chances are, she’ll be more likely to hold up her end of the bargain.

Kids use every excuse in the book to avoid the dreaded bedtime, but most of the time, they’re not just misbehaving. Try to get to the bottom of their bedtime stubbornness so you can help them get past it.

If your sweetie is afraid of something under his bed, talk about it (or do some dragon-sweeping with your magic broom). If he’s afraid he’ll miss out on fun stuff while he’s asleep, chat about the exciting things tomorrow will bring and assure him you’re going to sleep soon yourself. Then give him a heads-up that the lights are going off in three minutes so he can spend this time doing as he wishes. Learning how to get your kids to listen is often trial and error, so once you’ve found something that works, stick to it. Rituals really do help, too — a special song or phrase (like “See you later, alligator!”) before the last goodnight kiss sends the signal that it’s really time to hit the hay.

Getting kids to do something they dislike takes a lot of patience and some strategy, but with these tips you should be able to at least get a little concession before your children catch on!

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