Do you ever negotiate with your kids? Do you let them engage you in a negotiation conversation? We all know that negotiating with our kids is wrong, right? Parenting is not a democracy. Our kids’ votes do not hold equal weight with ours. But sometimes, it’s easy to get wrapped up in conversations that are thinly veiled negotiations.
Just recently, I noticed my husband getting caught up in a negotiation with our oldest. We’re weaning William off melatonin (which he needed for a while as a result of his sensory processing issues), and he’s been getting out of bed, impatient that he’s not falling asleep. I sympathize with the child since it can be hard to break an old habit. Honestly, it’s gotten to the point where the melatonin had greater psychological effects than anything else. Anyway, my husband brought William upstairs to put him back in bed, and I noticed that he got into a fairly long and involved conversation with William about it all.
My kids know they are not to get out of bed after we say good night. It’s never been much of an issue with William because the melatonin always put him to sleep right away. But still, he’s 8 now, and should know better. Nonetheless, my husband quickly got wrapped up in William’s pleading and complaining. It became a bit of a negotiation with William wanting to stay up late.
I take a very firm stance when my kids attempt to negotiate with me. I end the conversation before it even starts. If it were me, I would have said, “Good night, William,” in my I’m-done-with-this-conversation voice and closed his door.
Scenarios like this aren’t your typical negotiation attempts. When I think about negotiation, it’s the child trying to get 4 cookies instead of 2, and you agree to a compromise of 3. But with both scenarios, the parent is accepting something other than the original instruction.
After offering a scenario about a child wanting to play with his trucks during lunch, the Ezzos say:
“The issue is not whether playing with a truck at lunch is right or wrong, but whether his mom is characterized by always negotiating something less than her original instructions. When parents become characterized by continually accepting a negotiated compromise, they undermine their attempts to bring their child to first-time obedience. If all is negotiable, then no instruction is absolute. When we negotiate the standard in the heat of battle, there is no true surrender, only an agreed upon suspension of conflict. Without a complete surrender, there will always be a member ready to wage war,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 125).
That’s huge! Most of us know that negotiating with our kids is wrong, but have you ever stopped to think why? To think that it could completely undermine all of our hard work in first-time obedience makes the issue all the more important. If you’ve read my eBook, you know that saying what you mean and meaning what you say are crucial in setting the stage for first-time obedience. No child is going to obey you the first time if he can quickly and easily change your mind.
So stick to your guns and don’t let him negotiate with you! And be on the lookout for those conversations that seem like innocent conversations but are really negotiation attempts!