Successful parent-child negotiations

August 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
We all know how difficult and draining parent-child negotiations can be. Stanford professor Dr. Tina Seelig, author of "What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World," has tips tips for how to ease the difficulty.

Dr. Seelig's tips

1) Extract the most value for each participant.
Tina tells the story in her book of how her son, Josh, wanted to purchase a new bicycle but Tina and her husband weren't going to spend that much money on the bike (the one he wanted was super-pricey!). They said they'd be willing to pay half. Tina urged Josh to think of things he could do for her and his dad that would be worth the price of the bike. What could Josh do to make their lives easier?? Josh thought for a few days and came back with a proposal. He offered to do all of his own laundry and to both shop for food and cook dinner for the family 3 nights a week! Tina and her husband decided this was a good deal!

2) Understand that some cases offer a no-win solution and it's better to walk away from "the deal".
For example, Let's say that your child wants to stay out until 2:00 a.m. and you make the deal that only if he calls you to check in at midnight and 1:00 a.m. This is what Tina calls a "suboptimal" arrangement for both parties! Your child is out too late and you're woken up from sleep at least once! Better to just say no! Tina refers to negotiation lingo, BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) to do this effectively. What this means is that the best way to walk away from a deal is to understand your other choices, so you can accurately compare them to the deal at hand. Always know your BATNA when you start to negotiate.

3) To Negotiate Effectively, you should work to understand your own goals as well as the goals of your child.
This is common consideration and respect for your child. Always strive to look at why your child wants something. The why might be satisfied in other ways if you can't give the thing initially requested. Try to come to the same goal as parent and child even if your path to get there changes from the original idea.

4) Follow through with your commitments
In any negotiation, there are agreements that are made. It is really important to live up to those agreements. Therefore, only agree to things that you can live with and can make work. Don't promise things that you can't deliver. For example, don't agree to spend the day with your child if they clean up their room, only to tell them you are too busy when they complete their side of the bargain.

5) Each negotiation is the stepping stone to the next negotiation
You are going to have endless opportunities to negotiate with your child. Each one is an opportunity to build trust. You get a chance to demonstrate that you are a good listener, that you understand their point of view, and that you are going to follow through with your side of the bargain. If one negotiation goes well, it is much more likely that the next ones will, too.

Buy the book on Amazon: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Tina Seelig will be speaking on Friday night (August 28) at this event:
Women 2.0 Startup Weekend--August 28th-30th
Startup Weekend is a community startup event. Get together with local developers, marketers, designers, enthusiasts, and do what you do best. Start projects, start companies. No talk, all action.

WHERE:
sfCUBE

790 Tenessee St.

San Francisco, CA 94107

Go to www.women2.org to get tickets and more info...

About Dr. Tina Seelig:
Brief Bio: Tina Seelig has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University Medical School and is the Executive Director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, which is the entrepreneurship center at Stanford's School of Engineering. In addition, Seelig teaches courses on creativity and innovation in the Department of Management Science & Engineering and within the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford.


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