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Art & Culture, Digital Media & Communications, Economics

Parent-Child Relationships – Who’s the adult?

The relational dynamic children have with their parents consists of varying levels of growth and development. There is not a perfect parent nor child. There are, however, strategic ways you can negotiate with your child. It starts with respecting the child as a small grown-up through listening and responding accordingly. Simple enough right? Well, obviously there are hurdles to overcome given all children are different. The most common problem when it comes to parent-child relationships is one of dependency and trust. Children have no choice but to depend on their parental units for economical, mental, emotional, physical, and in some cases, spiritual support.

This dependency is the foundation of the dynamic and can either be a healthy or detrimental platform depending on the leadership of the parental figure. For example, the parent can equip the child with the adequate tools to be effectual, independent individuals in society. On the other hand, parental figures could restrain and prevent their children from becoming an upstanding citizen of society and finding their sense of self-identity. Dependency is a frail concept that needs to be constantly monitored, evaluated, and reconfigured in order to ensure the child is receiving the utmost preparation for the ‘real world.’ In saying this, it is crucial for parents to treat their children as respectable, independent beings by listening and responding to them in an appropriate manner.

Because children are still developing, parents often feel as though commanding or forbidding them to do/not to do something is the most effective strategy in the negotiation process. This is a very unhealthy tactic that lead children into possessing low self-esteem, lack of self-reliance, and poor negotiation skills with others. Scott Brown, author of How to Negotiate With Kids Even When You Think You Shouldn’t states, “the negotiation between parents and kids can actually be a great learning experience for your kids. If you don’t negotiate, your children may not learn how to deal with conflicts constructively. If you don’t teach them how to work with you, they may never learn how to work with others.” Kids need a venerable role model to learn from and demonstrate how to live as an independent entity in society. Rather than reprimanding your child, teach them what they did wrong by explaining it to them.

Referring to an example given by Stuart Diamond in his chapter on negotiating with children:

A boy wants to play with his new toy cars on the newly refurbished rug instead of the  wooden floors. Rather than his mother reprimanding him or commanding the boy to use the wooden floors because the rug had just been clean, the mother told the boy that the wooden floors would be better for playing with his cars because the cars will go faster on the wooden floors.

The child doesn’t care that the rug had just been refurbished. By providing him with the benefit of playing with his toy cars on the wooden floors, he is more likely to choose that option. This may sound like a simple solution but children often have simple requests. Because of common stresses and pressures of life, parental figures think (either subconsciously or consciously) that being militant or perhaps too authoritative will solve the problem. However, instilling fear and/or ignoring the child will only lead to unhealthy development. On the other hand, tending to your child’s needs without a concern for your own needs is just as harmful. When negotiating, in any situation, you choose the best option for all parties involved.

Share your examples on how you negotiate with children on this post!

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