Staging Toddler Negotiations

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I have decided that 4 is the best age… and the worst, because now it’s time to deal with toddler negotiations!

This face knows how to negotiate

If you have a toddler you already know what I am talking about! We can have actual conversations and discussions with our children (YAY – no more mind numbing baby speak). However, at some point I skipped the part where my little monster went to law school because we have now entered a phase where he acts like a lawyer and tries to negotiate everything! – The problem is, he is good at it! (I should be proud of this BUT he keeps using his powers against me!)

If you add this to his cute face, he always makes me second guess myself – and then panic because I AM SUPPOSED TO BE THE PARENT! (but the kid has a point on a few things – dammit!)

This leads to my current lifestyle of negotiating and finding myself having to deal with phrases like this:

“Can I make a counteroffer”
“Can I have a deal”
“No I don’t like that…how about this instead”
“Mummy, I’ll tell you what”
Because heaven forbid he does as he is told for a single second! The real question is: how do you make a toddler think they have negotiated you down and still getting him to do as he’s told?… without it turning into a tantrum.
I have to be honest it is a fine line! BUT here is what we have learned so far! So, how do you stage toddler negotiations?

Never put anything on the table you aren’t willing to give

Don’t offer something that they can’t actually have or that you don’t want them to have now! We tried “You can have a magazine tomorrow if you do….X…Y…Z tonight” and it really didn’t work. Toddlers are all about instant gratification and they want to feel like they have won something!

Never make two deals consecutively

The attitude I have to deal with!
This is my greatest mistake so far! We made a deal…. I fulfilled my end (a long story before bedtime) then he tried re-negotiating for more… and I said YES! (I can hear you hanging your head) This was a rookie error and I have learned that it is very hard to come back from that. Once you make a deal you have to stick to the terms! don’t let the sneaky ones re-negotiate! It always ends up in their favour

You don’t always have to negotiate

This is something that my husband learned. He always felt like he had to negotiate at bedtime until he realised that actually it’s well past bedtime and you should have been in bed hours ago. No negotiating, it is what it is! and that’s ok!

Negotiations don’t necessarily mean no tantrums

Here’s the thing. Toddlers will test your last nerve, and they want everything and are not willing to compromise half the time. The other half you aren’t willing to compromise on things. Ultimately, negotiations won’t always go their way and they will strop off and have a tantrum anyway!

Make them think they are winning

This is a reflection of real life business negotiations! Always ask for more and aim for higher, so that when you have to negotiate down you are actually getting what YOU wanted in the first place. The toddler feels like they have haggled you down and everybody is happy – when toddler negotiations work, this is how!

How do you negotiate with your toddler? Any rules or tips I have missed?


Founder at The Mummy Toolbox

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