Negotiation versus manipulation

When we negotiate with our kids, there is give and take with both parties cooperating towards a common agreement. On the other hand, when someone is being manipulative, they are working to get their needs met regardless of the other person’s needs. It does not feel good to be manipulated.

When we teach our children negotiation skills, we are showing them how to appropriately work towards getting their needs met while also taking into account the needs of others. For example, if our children want to listen to Radio Disney in the car but we want to listen to jazz music, we might agree to listen to two songs on one station and then two on the other one. This negotiated agreement is fair to both parties.

Our children may try to manipulate us by making irritating noises whenever the jazz station is on or saying “If you really loved us you would leave it on Radio Disney.” If we give in at this point and turn back to Radio Disney, our children will learn manipulating us works. This is not the lesson we want to teach them!

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