Doing Deals with Kids
- Posted by:
- Michael Grose
“Jai, if you eat all your dinner up, I’ll let you use my Ipad for five minutes.”
Most kids under the age of ten would empty their plate in an instant with that sort of carrot dangled in their face.
But it’s a tricky game you play when you start to deals with kids to get some cooperation.
For a start, you need to be prepared to raise the stakes as the novelty of five minutes of Ipad-use soon will wear off.
Also you need to be prepared to keep dealing with your kids as they soon learn that if they hang out long enough mum/dad or whoever will offer me a juicy enticement to win my favours.
You get what you negotiate
Keep doing deals with kids enough and they learn that they get what you negotiate. That’s fine in the business-world, but damn hard work in families.
I’ve seen mums who deal with kids because they just want peace and quickly.
I’ve also seen dads deal with their kids because they simply enjoy negotiating. They see it as a game. That’s hard work for their partner who doesn’t use those methods.
Kids who deal.....to get what they want
Sometimes it’s kids who do the negotiating. “You want me to go to bed at 8.00pm do you? Well I’ll go to bed at 8 o’clock if I can have a TV in my room” says a born negotiator.
It takes a savvy parent to say, “Actually, no. That’s not going to happen.” Sometimes we become involved in child-initiated deals before we’re even aware what’s happened. Again kids can take advantage of busy, tired or time-poor parents.
Let’s be realistic. Doing deals with kids is one discipline and management strategy in your armoury to get cooperation from your kids. BUT it needs to be a strategy of last resort (to use when your mother comes to visit; when you are dog-tired; or when you want a cosy Sunday morning in bed) not the first one you use when you want your kids to behave well.
Here are 5 alternatives to ‘doing deals’ with kids:
1. Catch them doing the right thing:
Make a bit of a fuss when your kids behave as you want. Tell your face that you are pleased with your kids so it lights up, and kids get to notice you are happy with their behaviour. This is based on the premise that parent recognition (“mum/dad is happy with me”) is a high driver for kids.
2. Reward them after the behaviour you want:
Don’t say, “If you behave well on our shopping trip I’ll buy you a matchbox car.” This is out and out bribery, which is tied up with the art of dealing. Instead buy your child a matchbox car to show your appreciation after he or she has behaved well.....and make a bit of fuss. (See Catch them doing the right thing.)The order makes all the difference!
3. Expect them to behave well
: This is more about attitude than strategy. But expectations are shown by your tone of voice (firm, not whiny); and your whole demeanour which indicates you mean it. (HINT: Think of someone you know who is assertive and channel them.)
4. Let consequences be your friend:
Let your actions, or lack of action, or do the talking. Rather than deal with kids to pack their toys away, put toys that are left around into the ‘mystery bin’ for a time. HINT: You may need to hold firm in the face of terrorism, in the form of a tantrum when you use this method.
5. Focus on you, not them:
Want them to go bed on time? Then start reading their bedtime story at the agreed time whether they are there or not. (NOTE: This works well if your child is a reader!!! Not so good if your child isn’t interested in books. It’s the principle that counts). Resist calls for ‘that’s not fair!’ as not being in bed at an agreed time is not fair on you either!
Nothing works all the time so Thriving
parents (i.e. effective parents who follow my ideas) know they need to have a number of different strategies at their disposal when they want cooperation from their kids.
They also have some hierarchy of discipline and management responses in their head and make deals with kids their last, rather than their first resort.
In fact, it may be smart to leave doing deals out of your parenting armoury altogether.
For more ideas to help you get cooperation from children and teenagers go to www.parentingideas.com.au
- deals, discipline, kids, management, managing, negotiation