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Grade-Schoolers Their Lives Expand : How Can I Get Them to Help? Chores, housework, motivation (part 2) - Negotiating with your child How to have a successful debate

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Negotiating with your child How to have a successful debate

Your child is increasingly keen to express her needs and views and, on occasion, stand her ground. The better her ability to communicate and negotiate, the more effective her transition to independence.

Successful negotiation

What’s the issue? Clearly define the point you are debating. If it’s a later bedtime ask your child to be specific about how much later she wants to stay up and on which nights of the week.

Grounds for debate

Encourage your child to give you her reasoning: Find out why this would be a good thing for her. Perhaps she’s had a birthday and expects bedtime to be adjusted, wants to watch a late TV show, or has friends who stay up and feels her bedtime is babyish.

Pros and cons

Try to generate as many positive and negative outcomes of the idea as you can. Be as silly or serious as you like. For later bedtimes you might come up with the downside of being overtired, sleeping in and missing breakfast, or keeping others awake with late night noise. On the upside, perhaps she’ll be able to join in with friends at school chatting about the TV show, have more one-to-one time with you after siblings have gone to bed, or feel grown up because you trust her to stay up later.

Think it over

Carefully consider each option, try to see your child’s point of view and help her to see yours. You might cut out some options quite quickly. For example, if the TV show she wants to watch is inappropriate for her age, then take this out of the debate. Once you have your final list of reasons for and against, weigh them up together. Some reasons will be strong, such as having one-to-one time with you, while others, such as having more free time, could be weaker.

Reach a compromise

Agree what you’re going to do. Be clear about what is allowed and what is not. For example, you may agree your child will stay up on a Friday and Saturday night for an extra hour, with the proviso that she will go to bed when asked, without complaining.

Review

Set a trial period, perhaps two or three weeks, to see if the decision is working out. Keep track of the up and down sides of the idea. At the end of the trial period decide whether to continue, adjust, or stop the agreement.

When not to negotiate

On points of safety, health, and values you may decide not to debate an issue. For example, if your child is asking to try alcohol, to go out late at night, or play violent video games classified above her age range, do listen, but go on to state clearly why this is not acceptable.

Not sleepy

Discussing an issue with your child, such as negotiating a later bedtime, is good practice for him and increases his independence.


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