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The Negotiator

The Negotiator

Distressed Housewife / May 17, 2012

Fun negotiating with children, isn’t it?  They get an idea stuck in their little minds and it’s almost impossible to dislodge it.

Take our six year old.  He’s going to singing club after school today which he’s excited about, but some of the children in his class are making fun of him about it, so we had a conversation that went like this:

Me, ‘If you want to sing and it’s something you’ll enjoy doing, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.’  Josh, ‘But they’re all saying it’s a girl’s thing to do.’  Me, ‘Just say, ‘Whatever, I’m doing it anyway.”  Josh, ‘I’ll get into trouble for saying, ‘Whatever”.  Me, ‘OK, just say, ‘I don’t care what you think.”  Josh, ‘We’re not allowed to say we don’t care about things.’  Me (losing patience), ‘Right; well, just say, ‘I’m doing it anyway because I enjoy it.”  Josh, ‘I think I’ll just ignore them.’…Yep, that could work, too.  Glad we’ve had this talk, son.

Our three year old has been asking every morning for the past two weeks if it’s his brother’s birthday party today.  When he asked again this morning I knelt down, made eye contact and gently explained (for the fourteenth time) that sorry, but no, it isn’t, it’s not for a while yet.  Did he respond positively to this exemplary display of good parenting?  No he didn’t, he had a tantrum instead and repeatedly shouted, ‘I want to go to Josh’s party!’.

How did I resolve this conflict?  By understanding that our pre-schooler has barely any concept of time and showing him a calendar so we could count down the days until the event?  Of course not, it was 7am and I hadn’t even had my morning caffeine.  I put on a DVD for him, waited until he had stopped moaning and went and made a brew.

Then our seventeen month old really wanted to hold my keys…when I needed to use them to drive.  I carefully took them from him, making sure to say, ‘Ta’ as I did so…and he screamed.  I gave him a set of toy keys…and he screamed.  I tried to soothe him whilst I strapped him into his seat…and he writhed like a bucking bronco.

He yelled at the top of his lungs for the whole journey there and and the whole journey back, occasionally alternating with ‘Ta’, in the hope that using his manners would get him somewhere if the screaming and crying didn’t.  My answer to this dilemma?  I gave him his lunch as soon as we got in of course – it was 10.45am.

So in your face, Supernanny; call yourself an expert?  The way to negotiate with children is clearly not to come down to their level and communicate calmly and firmly; been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.  The way forward is obviously to offer useless suggestions which your child will reject and go on to eventually solve their own problems or failing that, offer The Smurfs and cheesy beans.  It worked for me…



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