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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Negotiable Parenting: Managing power equations and struggles between parents and children

Screaming and constantly instructing the child for every single activity only confuses the child and leads to them not being able to differentiate between what is essential and what is not.

September 3, 2020 1:07:46 pm
parentingIt is important for parents to give room for children to express themselves. (Source: getty images)

By Dr Pallavi Rao Chaturvedi

The most common concerns of a lot of parents pertain to the behavioral aspects of children. These issues mainly include back answering, disobedience, stubbornness, lack of cooperation and the like. Such issues can really take a toll on the parent-child relationship and can also have long-term effects that can affect children even as adults.

In order to guide you through the process of addressing these behavioral problems, let us discuss the entire emotional playout that happens between parents and children. I will also explore why it happens, what is it that we can do to prevent such situations and how we can maintain a peaceful relationship with children.

It might surprise a lot of parents but what resides at the heart of the most common behavioral problems is essentially a power struggle between parents and children. It can be a little hard for parents to give up on the sense of authority that they enjoy over the lives of their children. Growing up, children might begin attempting to reclaim some sense of authority over their own lives. This might result in a complex struggle that can bring in a lot of challenges to deal with. To break it down, during the initial years of life, parents have full control over the lives of their babies. From deciding the time slots for sleeping, playing and other activities, parents get to decide what is best for the well-being of the baby.

As babies grow older, they start developing a sense of identity and start recognising themselves as individual beings, which leads them to form their own opinions and they are most likely to express them. It then becomes important for parents to realise that as our children grow, the equations of power have to necessarily change. It is important for parents to give room for children to express themselves otherwise they might be left feeling claustrophobic and restricted. This situation holds the potential to severely impact children and they might grow up with low self-esteem and low confidence. These issues can really escalate and amplify into huge concerns over the teenage years and adult life. Thus, the parenting roles and responsibilities along with the sense of power and control need to evolve as per the changing needs of each phase of life. One form of parenting that can be explored in this respect is Negotiable Parenting.

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Negotiable Parenting is a beautiful parenting technique that can be used to come to reasonable conclusions with children on the topics of debate at hand. It is a cooperative form of parenting where children and parents can collectively work together to solve concerns that often give rise to problematic situations and temper tantrums.

The negotiations here can be changed with the age group of the child. This form of parenting can really work wonders for strengthening the parent-child relationship and can also establish a sense of balance relating to the decisions of the child’s life. Some of the aspects that negotiable parenting helps in achieving include:

It allows the child to feel more in control.

It allows you to have a reasonable dialogue with the child.

It allows the child to become more independent.

It allows the child to develop decision-making abilities.

It leaves the child feeling that they are equal individuals.

When you decide to adopt this parenting style, you need to begin with identifying what areas are absolutely non-negotiable to you. These could be related to education, health, hygiene, family values, religious beliefs, etc. It is essential to put these values out for the child during the formative years. Once the child knows about the things that can’t be compromised upon, they are more likely to respect those beliefs. You can then list out the aspects where they can make their own decisions and give them the liberty to choose for themselves.

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One of the biggest mistakes that parents tend to make during the process is losing patience in getting day-to-day activities done. Screaming and constantly instructing the child for every single activity only confuses the child and leads to them not being able to differentiate between what is essential and what is not. When you clearly distinguish between what is negotiable and what is non-negotiable and make room for decision making, the child will feel more in control. Let the child decide what games they want to play, how many paintings they want to make, what candy or treats they want to eat, etc. When you let the child lead, a sense of independence is established that builds up confidence and decision making skills.

Remember that parenting is not only about the parent but it should also be child-led if you want to establish a cooperative, communicative and mutually respectful relationship with the child.

(The writer is a leading educationist, entrepreneur and parenting coach. She is the Vice President of the Early Childhood Association and the Founder of the Brainy Bear Preschool & Activity Club chain. She is also the creator of a parenting YouTube channel Get, Set, Parent with Pallavi.)

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