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How to Negotiate with Your Child: When to Give Choices and When to Stand Your Ground

How to Negotiate with Your Child: When to Give Choices and When to Stand Your Ground
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“I’ll clean my room only if you let Nina come over.” “I’ll eat all my broccoli only if I can have ice cream.” You heard it a dozen times, the “only if” phrase. You used to use it on them yourself, but somehow it got hijacked by your child along the way and now you feel like you are facing a pint-sized lawyer out to negotiate a big deal, only this deal involves housework, food or bedtimes. So are you facing a lawyer-to-be or have you merely created a willful spoiled child?

Should you negotiate with your child? Some parents and specialists[1] say “never” because it will just undermine your parenting, while others suggest that negotiating with your child teaches them the important soft skill of learning to deal with conflicts[2]. In reality, it depends on you and your child.

To Negotiate or Not Negotiate? That is the Question.

Circumstance decrees whether areas are open for negotiation with your child or not.

Non-negotiable: When to stand your ground

Some things in life will be cut and dry – like wearing a seat belt in the car. If they are on the verge of doing something that could be harmful to themselves or others – that’s a resounding ‘No!” Be firm and non-negotiable when it comes to your child’s safety.

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Let them know that they will be holding your hands through the busy parking lot or there will be consequences. Follow through with those consequences. Let them know that sitting in that car seat and wearing that seat belt is the law. These are non-negotiable areas. Period.

Open for Negotiation

There are a myriad of areas that can be open for negotiation. Meal time choices, television programs, clothing choices, hair decisions, staying over at friend’s houses. Maybe even to bathe or not to bathe every now and then.

Boost their self confidence by giving them a small victory. This does not mean you are weak and they are strong, but if you gave a resounding no to something they wanted badly, consider why you are saying no in the first place. Is purple hair really that horrific? They may learn their own lesson by living through a week or two of multi-colored locks. Though naysayers may disagree, sometimes you should let them go ahead, negotiate and win.

How to Negotiate with Your Child

Negotiating with your child should not crumble into an all out scream match- that’s a heated argument. Before you begin the fine art of negotiation, check out these tips to help smooth the way.

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Don’t be a Dictator: Give Choices

When you bark orders to your child, it is human instinct to want to rebel. You need them to clean the room? Instead of laying down a dictatorial decree, offer choices. Kids love choices because then they feel they have a say in what is going on. The moment your kids hit school, they are told to sit down, be quiet and do their work. This is where rebellion at home rears it’s head. They have a need to rebel against something because they are stripped of control of their life when they are at school.

Instead of declaring war by telling them to clean their room, try a more subtle approach. Would you like to clean your room before dinner or after? Or would you like to clean your room or help your dad clear out the garden shed? You may be surprised at how many kids dive into cleaning that room when presented with a much less favorable option!

Always Keep Your Cool

As any savvy negotiator can tell you, you need to check those emotions in at the door. Always keep your cool in dealing with a child. They may begin to go into melt down mode and you can use distraction and choice-offering tactics instead of yelling. Your emotions, or lack of them, will set the tone for the negotiation.

Do Not Allow Yourself to Be Manipulated

Yes, kids do try and manipulate their parents. If you feel your child is trying to work at your emotions, stop the discussion there. “Mom, we need this puppy! Isn’t he adorable? Didn’t you say I needed a friend? He doesn’t have a home.” Remember to hold those emotions in check. If you live in an apartment with strict rules, adding a dog to the family may not be a logical idea.

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If your child throws temper tantrums to get their way – that is manipulation. Do not cave in, you will only be rewarding their behavior and setting the stage for future temper tantrums. Kids are smart. They can see what works. Set consequences for bad behavior, like taking away their favorite game for a week, and carry them through. Let them know that you mean business.

Let Them Know Why You Make Certain Decisions For Them

If you definitely won’t let them go to a certain friends house, let them know why. It may be because there are extremely unstable family dynamics there or an older cousin who drinks too much who hangs at their house – whatever reason, let your child see the situation from your shoes. If you won’t allow them to cross the street alone- maybe there are too many cars on that road, perhaps you witnessed an accident there. Communicate how you see things with them.

Let Them Present Their Case

Allow your child to debate certain decisions with you, like a later bed time or having a friend over on a weekday. Older kids will tend to arm themselves with dozens of good reasons. Listen to their argument and then present yours. Choose a practical solution that will suit both of your needs.

Negotiation is about compromising, not winning or losing. A 30 minute later bedtime after Spring Break is over, contingent on your child’s ability to get themselves ready for school on time, or a lax bedtime on weekends if waking up is a problem. And as for that weekday sleepover? Will both children get any sleep at all? Maybe Friday night would be a better day.

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Know You Are the Captain

Always remember that there can only be one captain on a boat, and that is you. You are always the boss. You are the adult, after all. You may be open for negotiations on certain subjects, but any decision that comes from negotiation with your child must be acceptable to you in the end.

Whether or not you decide to let your child negotiate with you is your option. Give them choices instead of dictatorial decrees to alleviate arguments. Remember safety comes first and there are certain areas that are non-negotiable. Listen to them and explain why you make certain decisions and always check your emotions in at the door. Who knows, your little master negotiator may become a lawyer one day.

Reference

[1] Brenna Hicks. TheKidCounselor.com: Stop Negotiating with Your Children
[2] PBSParents. PBS.org: Talking with Kids

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Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About

20 Amazing Facts About Dreams that You Might Not Know About
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Dreams — Mysterious, bewildering, eye-opening and sometimes a nightmarish living hell. Dreams are all that and much more.

Here are 20 amazing facts about dreams that you might have never heard about:

Fact #1: You can’t read while dreaming, or tell the time

    If you are unsure whether you are dreaming or not, try reading something. The vast majority of people are incapable of reading in their dreams.

    The same goes for clocks: each time you look at a clock it will tell a different time and the hands on the clock won’t appear to be moving as reported by lucid dreamers.

    Fact #2: Lucid dreaming

    There is a whole subculture of people practicing what is called lucid or conscious dreaming. Using various techniques, these people have supposedly learned to assume control of their dreams and do amazing things like flying, passing through walls, and traveling to different dimensions or even back in time.

    Want to learn how to control your dreams? You can try these tips:

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    Lucid Dreaming: This Is How You Can Control Your Dreams

    Fact #3: Inventions inspired by dreams

    Dreams are responsible for many of the greatest inventions of mankind. A few examples include:

    • The idea for Google -Larry Page
    • Alternating current generator -Tesla
    • DNA’s double helix spiral form -James Watson
    • The sewing machine -Elias Howe
    • Periodic table -Dimitri Mendeleyev

    …and many, many more.

    Fact #4: Premonition dreams

    There are some astounding cases where people actually dreamt about things which happened to them later, in the exact same ways they dreamed about.

    You could say they got a glimpse of the future, or it might have just been coincidence. The fact remains that this is some seriously interesting and bizarre phenomena. Some of the most famous premonition dreams include:

    • Abraham Lincoln dreamt of His Assassination
    • Many of the victims of 9/11 had dreams warning them about the catastrophe
    • Mark Twain’s dream of his brother’s demise
    • 19 verified precognitive dreams about the Titanic catastrophe

    Fact #5: Sleep paralysis

    Hell is real and it is called sleep paralysis. It’s the stuff of true nightmares. I’ve been a sleep paralysis sufferer as a kid and I can attest to how truly horrible it is.

    Two characteristics of sleep paralysis are the inability to move (hence paralysis) and a sense of an extremely evil presence in the room with you. It doesn’t feel like a dream, but 100% real. Studies show that during an attack, sleep paralysis sufferers show an overwhelming amygdala activity. The amygdala is responsible for the “fight or flight” instinct and the emotions of fear, terror and anxiety. Enough said!

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    Fact #6: REM sleep disorder

    In the state of REM (rapid-eye-movement) stage of your sleep your body is normally paralyzed. In rare cases, however, people act out their dreams. These have resulted in broken arms, legs, broken furniture, and in at least one reported case, a house burnt down.

    Fact #7: Sexual dreams

    The very scientifically-named “nocturnal penile tumescence” is a very well documented phenomena. In laymen’s term, it simply means that you get a stiffy while you sleep. Actually, studies indicate that men get up to 20 erections per dream.

    Fact #8: Unbelievable sleepwalkers

      Sleepwalking is a very rare and potentially dangerous sleep disorder. It is an extreme form of REM sleep disorder, and these people don’t just act out their dreams, but go on real adventures at night.

      Lee Hadwin is a nurse by profession, but in his dreams he is an artist. Literally. He “sleepdraws” gorgeous portraits, of which he has no recollection afterwards. Strange sleepwalking “adventures” include:

      • A woman having sex with strangers while sleepwalking
      • A man who drove 22 miles and killed his cousin while sleepwalking
      • A sleepwalker who walked out of the window from the third floor, and barely survived

      Fact #9: Dream drug

      There are actually people who like dreaming and dreams so much that they never want to wake up. They want to continue on dreaming even during the day, so they take an illegal and extremely potent hallucinogenic drug called Dimethyltryptamine. It is actually only an isolated and synthetic form of the chemical our brains produce naturally during dreaming.

      Fact #10 Dream-catcher

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        The dream-catcher is one of the most well-known Native American symbols. It is a loose web or webs woven around a hoop and decorated with sacred objects meant to protect against nightmares.

        Fact #11: Increased brain activity

        You would associate sleeping with peace and quiet, but actually our brains are more active during sleep than during the day.

        Fact #12: Creativity and dreams

        As we mentioned before, dreams are responsible for inventions, great artworks and are generally just incredibly interesting. They are also “recharging” our creativity.

        Scientists also say that keeping a dream diary helps with creativity.

        In rare cases of REM disorder, people actually don’t dream at all. These people suffer from significantly decreased creativity and perform badly at tasks requiring creative problem solving.

        Fact #13: Pets dream too

          Our animal companions dream as well. Watch a dog or a cat sleep and you can see that they are moving their paws and making noises like they were chasing something. Go get ’em buddy!

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          Fact #14: You always dream—you just don’t remember it

          Many people claim that they don’t dream at all, but that’s not true: we all dream, but up to 60% of people don’t remember their dreams at all.

          Fact #15: Blind people dream too

          Blind people who were not born blind see images in their dreams but people who were born blind don’t see anything at all. They still dream, and their dreams are just as intense and interesting, but they involve the other senses beside sight.

          Fact #16: In your dreams, you only see faces that you already know

            It is proven that in dreams, we can only see faces that we have seen in real life before. So beware: that scary-looking old lady next to you on the bus might as well be in your next nightmare.

            Fact #17: Dreams tend to be negative

            Surprisingly, dreams are more often negative than positive. The three most widely reported emotions felt during dreaming are anger, sadness and fear.

            Fact #18: Multiple dreams per night

            You can have up to seven different dreams per night depending on how many REM cycles you have. We only dream during the REM period of sleep, and the average person dreams one to two hours every night.

            Fact #19: Gender differences

            Interestingly, 70% of all the characters in a man’s dream are other men, but women’s dream contain an equal amount of women and men. Also men’s dreams contain a lot more aggression. Both women and men dream about sexual themes equally often.

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            Fact #20: Not everyone dreams in color

            As much as 12% of people only dream in black and white.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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