“Let’s make a deal,” says my 4-year-old as he sits down at the dinner table. “I’ll eat 3 carrots, 5 bites of rice, and all my chicken if I can have ice cream later.”
I consider his proposal and counter with my own.
“I’m going to amend your deal. If you eat ALL of you carrots, 7 bites of rice, and all your chicken, then you can have ice cream. But no movie tonight if you want ice cream.”
I can see him weighing out his options, to which he finally relents. “Ok, pinky promise?” He asks, sticking his pinky across the table. We hook fingers to finalize the deal.
Now, many of you readers may be wondering why on earth I would let my toddler make negotiations with me. After all, I’m the boss and what I say goes in this house. However, I would also argue that learning the art of deal-making is a powerful tool to instill in your kids. And if Donald Trump has taught us anything, it’s that mastering “the art of the deal” is critical for success.
My son negotiates almost everything – from how long he gets to play outside to what toy he can pick out at Target. And I totally love it and encourage him to do it for a few reasons.
Firstly, bargaining is a learned skill that will be crucial for success later on in life. Negotiating your talents and terms is a quality all successful people have and I don’t think it’s ever too early to reinforce this skill set in your child. Just so long as your child isn’t calling the shots. There certainly is a fine line between making deals and letting your kid walk all over you. As a parent, you have to know the difference.
Secondly, negotiating is all about setting parameters and guidelines for yourself. It means that you know your worth, you understand what you are willing to do or put up with, and you set boundaries for yourself, your actions, and your environment. Essentially, you have more control over your destiny.
Thirdly, you learn to compromise (and this is a big one for me). Compromising is by far one of the most important things to learn in a society that has all sorts of different lifestyles, outlooks, morals, and beliefs than yourself. When you make a deal with someone (whether at the age of 4 in a classroom or at the age of 40 in a business meeting), you acknowledge the other person while also maintaining your own sense of self-worth. This is crucial in childhood development.
Lastly, I just think it’s funny to hear a toddler start every other sentence with, “Let’s make a deal.” Does that mean I always oblige? Absolutely not. But I appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit and if you can’t laugh at some of the stuff that comes out of your kid’s mouth, are you even really a parent?
Teach your child the art of negotiating, and you will teach them boundaries, compromise, and that no, you won’t always get your way – no matter how fair they might think their deal is. Trust me, this will do a great service to your child later on in life.