When Should You Negotiate With Your Children?

Parents can negotiate with their children as long as there is respect for the parents' authority. In this article we'll provide a few tips on how to deal with these kinds of situations.
When Should You Negotiate With Your Children?
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Do you feel like you spend half of the day giving orders and arguing at home? Many parents spend a lot of time saying “You have to go to bed!” and “You have to finish your dinner!” These statements can ignite different reactions from children and adolescents. So, when should you negotiate with your children? To what extent can you give in?

Excess and lack of authority can trigger negative consequences. Being moderate is the key to training your children and having a healthy environment at home.

Negotiating can be a learning experience for your children. As they grow, they’ll learn lessons about teamwork and how to understand points of views that are different from their own.

When should you negotiate with your children?

Children and teenagers will often try to oppose your decisions. They’ll test your will and try to change it by any means possible. In some cases they’ll use tantrums, tears or affective manipulation to try to get what they want.

Under these circumstances, it’s important for parents to respect their rules and justify their reasons. Showing empathy and understanding can make children react a little more positively, even when they don’t agree with you.

However, there are other times when your children will state their preferences with which you’ll identify with causing you to give in a little. If the aspect to be negotiated isn’t relevant (in a negative sense) and if negotiating benefits both parties, feel free to do so.

In a family, as in life, it’s beneficial to establish positive associations with the people who surround you.

The key is to find a solution that doesn’t tear down your authority while making them feel like their opinion is being taken into account. It’s important to point out that there are many situations that should never be open to negotiation. These situations shouldn’t lead to conflicts.

It’s our duty as parents to learn how to deal with our children’s nonconformities.

When Should You Negotiate With Your Children?

Useful strategies to negotiate with your children

Reduce the size of the conflict

The first step is to identity points where you agree with your children. Sometimes, the disputed areas are smaller than you think. It’s not always a matter of total opposition.

By agreeing on the positive aspects of the situation, affective bonds are strengthened. This strategy is especially useful when it comes to teenagers.

Explain your point of view

When you make a decision that your child doesn’t agree with, try to explain your arguments clearly. Although they may not accept your views with open arms, they’ll know that you’re acting fairly and not simply trying to exercise your authority.

“Laxity is often criticized, however, parenting is not an easy task, and if some sin by deficit, others do so by excess, asking their children to be obedient, well-mannered, intelligent, perfect! Should I as a parent demand so much from my child?”
–Maye Ruis–

Take the time to think and to give an answer

Young children can sometimes ask for ten different things in less than ten minutes. At times, the default response is to say no. However, it’s best to analyze and then respond coherently. Take a deep breath, think about the pros and cons before making your decision.

Avoid giving in to unacceptable behavior

Children may try to pressure you with tantrums, bad words, screams and tears. However, it’s important to never give in.

When necessary, you should also apply the agreed-upon corrective measures for their negative attitude. If you give in due to one of their tantrums, they’ll always resort to this method to change your decisions. 

When Should You Negotiate With Your Children?

Remember that you’re in control

As a parent, you’re in the position to resolve conflicts and make decisions that you see fit. It’s your job to watch over the safety and education of your children. There is no reason to feel guilty if you don’t please them with your decisions. 

“It is okay to negotiate an issue if both parties benefit from it in a positive way.”

Negotiating with children can help them evaluate facts. It can also teach them how to make wise decisions.

Negotiations show them that they can resolve their differences without resorting to conflicts with the people they love the most. They’ll learn to respect and trust the alternative solutions that you offer them every day.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.