There’s a Pint-Sized Negotiator in my Bathtub!

Monday, May 24, 2010

It’s Just a Phase… Right?
This mom’s limits and patience are being tested – regularly. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the ability to negotiate solutions to problems is a social-emotional developmental milestone for preschoolers. To this I say, I must have a very advanced child! I say this in jest, but it can be hard to find the humor when the negotiation tactics are coming fast and furious. Everything – from what we have for breakfast, to whether it’s cold enough for a jacket, to what’s really on our shopping list – seems to be up for negotiation in B’s world. It’s a balancing act that every parent must navigate. In which battles do you hold your ground, and which aren’t worth the fight? How much control do you let your little negotiator (think) he has? When do you apply reason and logic, and when is it ok to answer, “Because I said so!” Personally, I strive to let B feel a sense of control in some decisions, while remaining firm on big-ticket items. I try to help him understand why mommy and daddy get the final say (because we want to keep him healthy and safe) so that when we do need to lay down the law, it’s a little easier to swallow. But like I said, lately we are reaching the limits of my idealism.

Encouraging or Making Light of Negotiating?

To the Tub
Peggy Perry Anderson’s To the Tub is all about a young frog’s negotiations to avoid the bathtub. When Joe’s father announces it’s time for the tub, Joe’s response is “Okay, but…” Sound familiar? Joe proceeds to collect all the toys he needs, and get in a little playtime along the way. I like that I can use the illustrations to discuss what Joe is really doing. Is he getting his ducky or playing on the slide? Is it okay to do both after Father told him it was bath time? Getting the ducky might be a reasonable request, but playing on the slide is frustrating for Father.

Eventually, Father becomes so overloaded with Joe’s toys that he trips on a beach ball, and all the toys end up in a mud puddle. Joe and his father solve this problem in froggy fashion, by enjoying a mudbath! In the end, it’s Mother Frog who ends up enforcing the bath – for both Joe and his father!

I’m kind of tickled by the fact that Mother ends up laying down the law – does that happen in your house, too? I don’t begrudge anyone a good mudbath, but I did talk with B about negotiations and decision making. Is it ok to ask to do what you want? Yes. Will you always get your way? No, and it’s not ok to do it anyway. To the Tub isn’t a heavy duty lesson teaching book, but I don’t really like those anyway. I like it when books lead the way to good discussions without feeling like lectures.

How do you handle negotiations at your house?

I’m linking up with What My Child is Reading this Week, and looking forward to some more good suggestions!


Raising a Happy Child May 25, 2010 at 2:14 PM  

Thanks for joining WMCIR - I enjoyed reading about negotiations in your house and the review of To the Bath. We also give Anna more freedom that is usual for a 3 year old and respect her choices. She does know that certain things (such as rest time in the middle of the day or bedtime) are not negotiable. Still it's very tempting to say "Because I said so" sometimes even though I bite my tongue really hard to stop myself. Instead I say, "Because I am your mother, and I know best"

Debbie May 25, 2010 at 5:05 PM  

I have been sitting here reading your posts on negotiation, and I must say you make some great points. I know that I tend to be more relaxed with Selena in this area, so long as she isn't pushing the limit of destroying property or harming herself. Yet, she knows when Mama is tired and not as patient, that Mama is going to have the last word, and she excepts it very well.

The book To the Tub sounds like a very interesting and fun read. I am adding it to my list to look for.

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