Many may believe that children go into a stage at age 5-7 years old when they always want something in return for a parental request of a task to be done. You may often hear, “only if you give me a dollar.”  Such a response is not an inevitable developmental response, but rather a reflection of what you as a parent have taught your child.

If you have always rewarded your child with a monetary or material reward for every task or contribution to work around the house, then of course they will expect compensation.  As a parent, I would suggest that you allow children to enjoy the intrinsic good feeling of a job well done and contributing to the family team. “What you give is what you get” is a truth all children should learn, with an emphasis on the work “GIVE.” It is essential that you set limits and make your expectations clear to your child. If you don’t consistently reinforce those expectations and limits, you will lose all respect and credibility.

Decide on a system of discipline that incorporates natural consequences so that your child learns to make good choices without your constant supervision.  It frees up your time and energy and allows your child to develop a healthy sense of independence where your relationship with your child is enjoyable and not a power struggle. With earned respect, we expect compliance and obedience, but in giving children a voice where they are heard, they learn to think, process and problem solve. Children are not robots.  They need to learn negotiation skills to be successful in life.  Even the Ads for training programs in negotiation skills bost that we don’t get what we deserve in life, but what we negotiate. It is truly one of the best skills a child can learn and sure beats whining and complaining which results from a sense of powerlessness. When children feel powerless they tend to act out or experience childhood depression.

Negotiating requires strategic thinking and teaches your child the art of influence.  It involves logic and communications skills which are essential for achievement and healthy relationships.  By definition, negotiation is about compromise where everybody wins.  Thus, the next time you feel manipulated by your child’s intuitive ability to win at the game of life, assess what you are rewarding and then rather than suppress his or her creativity, channel it constructively and be clear what is negotiable and what is simply doing one’s fair share as a member of the family. It is teaching your child what is and is not negotiable and how “their” choices create natural consequences.

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