The Eight Methods of Negotiation

Parents have spent centuries developing ways to combat the power struggle that exists between them and their offspring, using pathetic attempts at gaining compliance so they can delude themselves that they are actually in charge. It appears there are eight main methods of negotiation that exist when dealing with children, although this certainly isn’t exhaustive, and I have adopted all of them at some point or another.

It’s not always necessary to use all eight methods for the same activity – hair washing, for example, may only require one or two. However, there are some activities that require pulling out all the stops; mealtimes being one of them. Sick of serving up beige food with the nutritional value of bark, or having to witness that look when I present them with something new, these eight tried and tested ways may be all I need to lead me to victory:

Incentive

“Look at this delicious dinner I have just made. It has special ingredients that make you really strong and clever.”

*Only really used when I have the required amount of patience (varies daily). If I have not had an adequate amount of sleep due to dealing with the dream shark, and I get presented with the look almost immediately upon delivery of the dinner, then this method will be skipped entirely.

Obstinance

“You’re not leaving the table until you have eaten your dinner. Even if you have to stay there all night.”

Standing my ground. I make my position perfectly clear. I’m definitely in charge. I’m almost definitely absolutely possibly going to win this.

Cliché

“There are children starving in Africa who would give their leg limbs for a mouthful of your dinner.”

Clearly floundering, I jump straight into cliché, followed by muttering, “you ungrateful little shit,” under my breath just to make myself feel better.

Bribery

“Try it and I’ll give you £1.”

The child waivers slightly. The promise of a gold coin usually bags the win…but not this time. The food is just too nutritious.

Emotional blackmail

“I have spent hours making this for you. I’ve even made my fingers bleed making this dinner and if you don’t try it, I’ll be very, very sad. Do you want to make me cry?”

*Inserts other words such as disappointed, heartbroken, devastated and ruined for maximum effect.

Threats

“If you don’t eat your dinner, I’ll never cook for you again and you will have to survive on scraps out of bins.”

Other threats include dobbing them in to their favourite teacher. Despite usually being incredibly effective – it’s time to go nuclear.

Rage

“THAT’S IT! I’M SICK TO DEATH OF MAKING FOOD JUST SO YOU CAN MAKE THAT FACE AT IT! STARVE! SEE IF I CARE!”

Complete with a dramatic door slam and stomping off powerfully, spitting expletives through gritted teeth followed quickly by an overwhelming sense of failure and guilt.

Desperation

“Five mouthfuls…three…just one mouthful…taste it…just taste it, please…just lick the spoon…one lick…sniff it then…one sniff…look at it…just one look…look at it with one eye and you can leave the table.”

YES! They looked at it! VICTORY!

And who says this parenting lark is difficult? *Pours large glass of wine and beats self with parenting stick for not sticking with ‘Incentive’.

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9 thoughts on “The Eight Methods of Negotiation

  1. I’m obviously spending far too long on the ‘Incentive’ stage, as before I know it I’ve skipped all the other stages and gone straight to rage/desperation in a one-er! Marvellous stuff, as usual.
    Thanks for keeping us laughing at ourselves…not that I need much help!

  2. My wife had the patience of a Saint when dealing with our two girls – my constant contribution of “eat it all up, it’ll put hairs on your chest”, I recall wasn’t particularily well received.

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