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How To Successfully Negotiate With Your Teen

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As your teen grows older, she may want to stay out later or do fewer chores. Instead of just flatly denying your teen's request, you can try negotiating. This could help teach her about compromising, a skill she will need as she becomes an adult. In fact, one study found that teens who persuasively negotiate with their parents are less likely to give in to peer pressure.

Negotiating with your teen brings numerous additional benefits. Your teen will hopefully realize the value of calm discussions. She will quickly understand that it is tough to negotiate with someone when you are upset or angry.

Your teen may also gain confidence and independence from your negotiations. She will learn how to properly express her feelings and understand the potential consequences of her actions. She will also practice listening and understanding different points of view.

Of course, for your teen to get these benefits, you have to negotiate with her properly. Poor negotiation techniques can just make the situation worse.

If you have never really negotiated with others before, you may want to sign up for negotiation training. The below steps may also help both you and your teen benefit from the negotiation process.

1. Show a United Front

A negotiation is pointless if your teen just runs to your spouse afterward to get what she wants. Before you begin the talk with your child, make sure both parents are on the same page.   

2. Pick the Right Time To Negotiate

When it comes to negotiations, timing is everything. Both you and your teen need to be in the right frame of mind. For instance, if your teen is refusing to come home on time, you should not choose that moment to negotiate her curfew. Instead, remind her of the consequences of breaking your rules. You can then consider negotiating with her once she has calmed down.

Your teen may also try to negotiate with you when you are busy or distracted. She thinks that you are more likely to give in when you are not fully paying attention to what she is saying. If she tries this tactic, tell her that you will discuss the matter with her later that night or the next day.

3. Don’t Be a Dictator

You must understand that your teenager is no longer a child. She is mature enough to make decisions for herself. If you insist on telling her what to do, she may just ignore you and do what she wants anyway.

Instead, you should have an open discussion and let her state her thoughts on the matter. Use a firm yet warm voice so she feels comfortable. Try to be as respectful as possible, and hopefully, she will follow suit.

If you sense things are getting tense, don’t let the discussion escalate any further. Instead, table the negotiations for another time.

4. Listen

Similarly, when it is your teen's turn to talk, actively listen without interrupting her. If you have any objections to what she is saying, wait until she is done before bringing them up. You can then give her a chance to respond to your concerns.

5. Use Your Authority the Right Way

While you should respect your teen's point of view, you should also make it clear that you are still the one in charge. You may have to adjust this strategy as your teen gets older. If she is only 13 or 14, you can mention during the negotiation that you must agree to the final decision. If your teen is 16 or 17, however, you should emphasize that you only need to set certain boundaries because you care about her safety and well-being.

6. Clearly State the Outcome

Once you and your teen come to an agreement, you can't back away from it. If you don’t abide by your part of the compromise, your teen will have trouble trusting you in the future. To ensure that both you and your teen follow the terms of your agreement, make sure these terms are clear before you end the negotiation.

You should also clearly state any consequences your teen will face if she breaks the terms of the negotiation. Try ending the discussion on a positive note so both sides can walk away happy.

Of course, you cannot always negotiate every disagreement with your teenager. If she skips class, or if you catch her smoking, you must make clear that her actions are never acceptable.

However, if there is some room for compromise, feel free to negotiate with your teen. She will appreciate the chance to show her independence. The discussion could even bring you and your child closer together.

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