All parents remember the age when their son or daughter figured out the art of negotiating. The point in their life when they started to haggle like they were buying a used car. It could be for anything, more food, longer play time, bedtime, how long they got to watch TV or even for nothing at all.
Kids love to negotiate when given even the smallest opportunity.
For our son, it started around the time he turned three. This also was around the time he really had a grasp of what each number meant.
As his negotiations skills have grown over the past few months, I felt it was time to take a look into what makes him tick.
So, here are 5 negotiating tactics of a kid and how to beat them (in no particular order)
1. Incremental number drop.
The first hand number signs our son learned pretty easy was five and 10, since it was one full hand or two full hands. This is how we used to count him down to anything that had a hard deadline. Bedtime, when dinner was or when we had to leave somewhere we knew he would not want to leave.
Then he learned one through 10 pretty quick and this added to his new-found skill of bartering for time.
For example, now when we are shoveling the driveway, we will say, okay, five more minutes. Then our son will say seven more. We agree. Then we give the two-minute warning and he will say, no five more. We say, three, he says four – you get how this is going.
Then finally it reaches one minute and he goes for broke trying to get back the original 10 minutes. I think he sees it as a game that he has control of. But really we are just humouring him until it is time to just end all deals.
Finally when we want to end this dance, we just draw a line in the sand box and call it a day. He may not always like it, but he does follow even if it is a teary walk.
2. The flat out ignore.
This one is pretty common. I like to call it selective hearing. You know they hear you but pretend they are so focused at the task at hand that they did not hear. It’s like they think they stumbled into some rabbit hole where parents will just think, hmmm I guess he can’t hear me, I will just let him do what he wants.
To beat this, pretty easy. Rinse and repeat. And when all else fails, just start the process and they will follow.
3. Doing what they don’t want to get what they do want.
Kids eventually figure out the whole game of bribery. At first they again, think they have discovered Atlantis. All I have to do is one little thing I don’t want to do and I get whatever I want? Hell yeah.
But then they start to take it too far. Instead of one cookie if you eat some salad, they go for three cookies for just waving the salad near their mouth. Clearly, there is no caving on this deal.
The trick I find is you just go so far the other way, that they revert back to the original deal. The treat for eating what he does not like, almost always works and is in fact a counter negotiation they don’t even realize (yet).
4. One more book
This one is hard to hold out on. The one more book before lights out tactic is legendary in the kid community.
You know how it goes. You read one or two books that they want and you are exhausted and just want that light to go out. Then they pull out the sad face, the sad eyes and that voice. Dad, can I have one more book, please?. Oh those cute characteristics. They were made for tough negotiations.
Hold firm people or you will be there all night and worse, they know they can do it again and again. Thankfully you just need to distract and run. You have to figure out the how but it works for us. No dude, no more books. How about we play in the snow tomorrow (and bolt).
5. Play parents against each other.
This is a recent development in our house. Our son now does the divide and conquer thing when it comes to something he does not want. What he does not realize is, mom and dad talk to each other.
For example, during bath time. He will say to me, mom said I don’t have to wash my hair tonight. Or to my wife, dad said that I can watch two episodes of Sponge Bob.
Has this tactic ever worked for negotiating out of something? I will admit, it is funny to hear what he tries to pull over on us though.
To get around this one. Pretty easy. Communicate with each other and if it sounds really odd, you know it ain’t real.
So there you have it. 5 negotiating tactics our son uses to try to get out of things. It is pretty cute and funny to watch now but if you really think about it, this period of time is just training for when they are teens. Then they have a little more street smarts and awareness and that is when all the kid time they put in, will pay off.
What negotiating tactics do your little ones use? I would love to hear them. Comments or Facebook would be great.