Last weekend, my 6 year old daughter got furious and scattered her toys because I broke protocol and wasn’t playing a game on her terms and conditions. That’s according to her.
Big mistake. Personally, academics can take a backseat but not discipline. I have a reward and punishment equation set for her.
Realization quickly dawned on her and it was punishment time.
She had two choices – pack up the tent house for the week or give up a certain amount of screen time.
She made a quick decision- it was the tent house that had to go.
With a heavy heart, she started packing her tent house. While packing, she subtly requested if she could play till afternoon and then pack up? I was okay with it. That was acceptable.
By evening, she was clearly missing her tent house but she couldn’t go back on her words. So, she approached me once again – Is it possible that I give up on my favourite show for the week and trade it with early access to my tent house? I immediately said ‘No’ – let’s stick to what we agreed.
Two days later, she approached again, “I’m ready to give up on my favourite show and also promise to reduce my screen time. Can I now have access to my tent at least starting Friday?”
She had a new offer, “I’m okay if I can’t have it for the entire day but at least once I finish my assignments can I play with it in the evening. Just few additional hours is what I am asking.”
I was taken aback but quietly admired her persistence, “How about you give up on your favourite show for this week? That should be good enough.” And, I suppose I gave in and gave her access to the tent by Friday evening.
I don’t know if as a parent I negotiated well enough but I was amazed by the way my 6 year old approached the conversation.
- She was quick in decision making
- She followed it to win my trust
- She was ready to give in some to gain more
- She didn’t sound like a broken record
- She actually broke a big problem into smaller pieces
- She was creative in with her options every-time she approached us
- She was mindful of the fact that our objective of punishment is not lost in the process ( careful about our need and interest )
- Surprised us with an option, while we were unprepared and could barely think of any better option
- Most importantly, she was persistent
Negotiation is both an art and science. It involves emotions as well as logic. There is so much research done in this field and so many models and metrics to help professionals help make the most of the negotiation.
But children tend to do it effortlessly. I feel they are able to do so because they enjoy the process of negotiation. They enjoy being there in the game.
How many of us have had similar experiences with our children? Were you able to come up with a win-win situation? Would love to hear your story
Sumitra Paul Chatterjee
I Train Consultants India Pvt. Ltd.
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