Most children pick up negotiating skills on their own, through life experience. Children with exceptionalities might need a more direct approach to acquire this vital ability. Negotiation, even on an elementary level, involves a few, logical steps. It won’t always yield the desired outcome, but it’s nearly always worth a try.

3 kidsHere’s how to break the process down to smaller chunks:

What is your bottom line? You might want to play kickball during recess, but what you really need is to be on someone’s team for some sort of sport. That’s your bottom line.

What’s the other side’s angle on the issue? In our example, why don’t the other kids want you on their team? Are there too many kids there? Do they want to play on the playground equipment rather than play an organized sport right now? Is there legitimately not enough time to bother playing a game? Understand where “the other side” is coming from.

Work out a win-win situation, if you can. How can everyone come out of this happy? What if you spend half of recess on the equipment and half playing an abbreviated game? Would it be so bad, after all, if there were one more person on one team than the other? Would you be willing to play soccer today, rather than another game of kickball?

Role play at home as a dress rehearsal. Even broken down into steps, the prospect of negotiating in real life can still be daunting. Try it out first in the non-threatening environment of home. Have your child play both sides of the issue, one at a time, while you play the other side. You can both laugh together as you try different argument options. In the end, giving it a “dress rehearsal” run (or two) should give your child the confidence to give it a go the next day.

This isn’t a simple issue. It can be intimidating, sometimes very much so. If you see that your child is being bullied or is otherwise used as a doormat, get more thorough help. The school guidance counselor might be the best place to start.

Share Button