Negotiating With A Terrorist
Boy Wonder is one of the most stubborn people I have ever met. He inherits that shimmering quality from his dad…and his mom. Now imagine the warzone that our living room becomes when these three strong wills oppose each other; at bedtime, on a school night. It’s an unpleasant experience that usually ends in tears. Well it used to.
Somewhere along the lines; probably as I was red faced and fuming on the couch, Bex had slammed the bedroom door, and Boy Wonder laid on the floor screaming, I promised myself that there had to be a better way to go about this than resorting to a constant power struggle. After all, I am not negotiating with a terrorist here.
The Art Of The Deal
Here is the story of how we stumbled upon peaceful negotiations.
“No get dressed. I want to want Thomas Train.” Boy Wonder argued one morning after I demanded he get dressed for school.
We all know where this could have been going but that morning, I had a stroke of genius.
“Do I need to turn the TV off?”
“No! I want to watch Thomas Train.”
“If you want to watch Thomas the Train, you need to get dressed first.”
I watched him look from the t.v. to me, wheels turning behind his eyes. For one of the first times, I watched Boy Wonder weigh his options. Then, resigned, he grunted what sounded like agreement to me. We got him dressed without any more fuss and true to my word, I let him watch Thomas.
It’s worked at dinner time too.
“Eat the green bean.”
“No. I want milk-a-shake.”
“If you want ice cream, you need to eat your Green beans first. No greenbeans, no ice cream.”
I had two options: I could either let my 2-year-old walk away and eat nothing, or I could discreetly but strongly encourage him to maybe have a few bites. Before our negotiations began, he was ready to push his chair back and split from the table. After our little chat, he ate the green beans like they were his favorite food.
Making An Offer He Can’t Refuse
Negotiating feels unnatural and a little silly when you’re doing it with a two-year-old. If I’m not careful he might be wearing three-piece suits and making counter-offers on bedtime before I know it. But that sure beats a crying fit on the living room floor.
I might be a little rusty on my Seuss but I believe it was the wise elephant, Horton, who said “A person is a person, no matter how small.”. I’d like to add that “no matter how small they are, they deserve to be talked to with respect”
Negotiations will not work 100% of the time. But I’m also not quoting former President Regan either. I will negotiate with this kid. Sure, sometimes he will have to listen the first time I tell him no. There will come a day when he will take a bath the first time I ask. But for now I will negotiate. I may be the superhero and he may be the sidekick but we don’t always have to have a power struggle. He will make offers I can’t refuse. I’ll do the same to him. Why? Because I would rather keep the peace and settle things without tears and fighting. When I’m out in public and up against a stubborn toddler, I will pull negotiation out of my utility belt every time.