How to Compromise With Your Little Negotiator
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
Kids say the darnedest things, right?
While you might initially think your “little negotiator” is cute in their efforts to get their way, that kind of behavior can quickly turn frustrating. Older toddlers and preschool-aged children are notorious for trying to “strike deals” to get their way. Sometimes you might give in. Other times you might simply refuse.
Unfortunately, neither option is always ideal and can lead to more headaches in the long run.
Understand What Your Child Really Wants
You know your child better than anyone. By the time they are 3 or 4 years old, they’re capable of expressing what they want. But, there may be a deeper meaning beneath the words.
As a parent, your job is to figure out what that meaning could be. For example, if your child insists on wanting pancakes for breakfast, do they just want to help you in the kitchen? Are they looking up to the way you do things? If they want one more book before bedtime, do they just want to spend more time with you? If they want to wear a special hat or t-shirt somewhere, is there a reason they feel the need for extra “security”?
Having a discussion with your child about these things will make it easier to reach a compromise because you’ll understand where they’re coming from. That doesn’t mean they’ll get exactly what they’re asking for, but you can develop a solution that provides them with what they truly want or need.
As a bonus, most kids just want to be heard and understood. When you’re showing your child that you’re taking the time to do that, they’re more likely to calm down.
Even when you realize that your child is trying to express their true feelings, that doesn’t mean you should give in. If your child is old enough to negotiate, they’re also old enough to know and understand your rules. It’s important to remain firm and consistent in those rules and not back down.
If they know they can haggle their way into whatever they want, they might start to lose respect for your authority. That can create behavioral issues as they get older, and you will have a harder time getting them to listen and believe that your rules are firm.
It’s not always easy to say no to a toddler or preschooler, especially when they seem genuinely upset. But by remaining consistent with your rules, you’re helping them learn and grow more than you realize.
It Isn’t Always Negative
Can it be frustrating to negotiate with a pint-sized person? Absolutely. But before you allow that frustration to take over, consider the positives of your child wanting to make a deal with you.
They’re learning and developing a better understanding of their own needs, wants, and ideas. It also means they’re testing the waters to see what works and what doesn’t for self-expression and getting the things they desire. So while it might be hard on you, it’s actually a way for your child to understand everything from how to ask for things to how to follow the rules.
If you’re still feeling frustrated, you’re certainly not alone. Dealing with a little negotiator isn’t easy, but it also isn’t impossible. If you’ve tried these techniques and nothing seems to be working, don’t hesitate to contact me for help on how to handle your child’s willingness to strike a deal. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.
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Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.