- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Viking Adult (February 24, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670031828
- ISBN-13: 978-0670031825
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,521,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How to Negotiate with Kids . . . Even if You Think You Shouldn't: 7 Essential Skills to End Conflict and Bring More Joy into Your Family Hardcover – February 24, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Brown, a founding member of the acclaimed Harvard Negotiation Project, brings his negotiating skills to the parenting arena. A parent of four himself, he realized that parents can apply the same negotiating skills used at work to their home life. Brown first explains the difference in negotiating styles, which can be summarized as "hard bargaining" and "accommodating." Put simply, the former want to lay down the rules while the latter may be too willing to give in to their children's demands. The key to using negotiation tactics successfully as a parent is to "balance coercion with persuasion." Toward that end, Brown advises parents to focus on the problem, not the child. He says, "Rather than turn on your children, turn to the issue.... One way to focus on the problem rather than on your child is to regard yourself as an observer of the dispute." Other useful tenets include working on solutions together, creating options rather than narrow choices and making rules rather than threats. Brown offers advice on related parenting issues such as discipline and listening; his suggestions on engaging kids in longer conversations without seeming to interrogate them are sound. Many hypothetical conversations-both productive and not-so productive ones-are included to illustrate the author's points. This is a first-rate advice book that parents with children of any age will find helpful.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Brilliant... Practical... Essential tools for todays parents." -- Sal Severe --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
On that note, I have to note here that the title is unfortunate; it’s really not about “negotiating” so much as respecting your kids enough to come to an agreement and a compromise about how things are going to be done. Why should you have to compromise with your kid? Well, you don’t, the book argues, but if you have it your way all the time be aware that’s going to be temporary and likely incompatible with a strong, trusting, relationship with your kid.
Here are couple of critical take-aways (from the perspective of the parent of a 2-year-old), in no particular order:
(1) It’s going to take just as long and take just as much energy to fight as it will to come to an agreement. This was perhaps the most important one to me. Your kid doesn’t want to do what you need them to do. You can force them to do it, but this takes enormous energy (often including brute force, such as to get a toddler into their car seat) and they will cry and you will feel awful and it’s going to be a whole big thing. Alternative: “okay, you can sit in the driver seat and pretend-drive for 5 minutes, then you have to get into your seat.” The miraculous thing is that they do! (Or at least my kid does). I sit there and go along with the pretend play for 5 minutes and we have a good time (although, I admit I’m eyeing the clock because we’re running late) and then she gets a one-minute warning and when time’s up, she goes to her seat. We discussed that she would and she does. It totally works!
(2) Don’t be a bully. You can force your kids to do things while they are small, but what the heck are you going to do when they are 16 and stronger than you? The recommended alternative: build a relationship now.
(3) Recognize patterns and plan ahead. You’re going to encounter the same issue over and over and over again. Know this ahead of time. Know, for example, an hour before bedtime, that you’re going to have a fight on your hands in an hour. Get tee’d up; set the stage for a good way to start the bedtime routine.
(4) Be explicit. Say it, say it out loud, that the rule is X. You might think your kids know the rule, but they may not. Besides which, saying it helps reinforce it. “It’s mid-day. The rule is you don’t drink chocolate milk mid-day. When do you get chocolate milk?” “That’s right, when it’s bedtime.” (Note here the 3 drops of chocolate syrup that goes into her night-time milk, which seems to be enough to do the trick).
(5) Give a little. Just do it. Your kid is not going to walk all over you for the rest of your life and treat you horribly and you’re not going to be the neighborhood’s laughing stock. Machiavellianism is not a good approach to parenting.
A final note: the thing that this book does most beautifully (and that I found sorely lacking or utterly disingenuous in other parenting guides) is that it is guilt-trip free. It is really okay, according to this, if you don’t get it right every time. You’ll get it next time. Don’t sweat it. This book fully recognizes that there are days when you are too tired to go seven rounds with your toddler and that’s okay. You’ll talk about it tomorrow. In fact, the books offers specific recommendations for how to table a discussion. You don’t have to feel awful about being a human being – how’s that for an approach to parenting?
I took away from the book a few key points:
1. Keep your emotions in check.
2. Don't respond emotionally to your child, but do show your emotions (read the book to find out how!)
3. Name yours and your child's emotions
4. Truly try to understand what is going on in your child's head -- and don't guess why, ASK!
5. Involve your child in decision-making -- and this includes when you decide the consequences!
6. Persuade, don't coerce, your child to see your point.
7. Be willing to be flexible and allow your child to change your mind.
I had a revelation as I read the book that the way he talks about handling your children is how I handle conflict at work. At work, and even in my personal life (other than the kids) -- I am pretty universally known as a consensus-builder. I never force people to do what I want them to do, but I work really hard at persuading people to work with me to come up with a win-win solution for all of us. Yet with my kids, I yell at them to do what I want, when I want, how I want. I don't treat them, and their opinions, with the respect I give my co-workers and friends! How sad is that?
The best thing about the book is in the description of conflicts that we all have with our kids, and the way the same situation could have been solved using his methods. All the arguments are so accurately written that I actually laughed out loud (and was sometimes a little sad). When Brown re-wrote the scenario, using a negotiation method, it all made perfect sense. Does it take longer to negotiate? Yes. Is it really hard to keep your emotions in check? Unbelievably! But it really seems to work.
In short, buy this book. I intend to buy copies for everyone I know.
Actually, a lot of things. After a certain age, I found it physically impossible to "make" my child do anything. On the few occasions I tried, usually because of perceived lack of time or energy, the net effect was a much greater cost of time and energy for both of us. Of greatest concern to me, however, was the potential for damage to our long-term relationship. Eventually I came to realize that the negotiation approach is the only way to realize a happy, peaceful domestic life, and had been (perhaps subconsciously) using it to help my child behave more responsibly. Mr. Brown's book helped me view these interactions as part of a well-understood process, and provided me with some valuable new tools to employ. I would highly recommend it to any parent.
By the way, the techniques covered in the book are equally effective with other family members (such as one's spouse!)