The need to negotiate rules with your older children and why it works

As our children get older and demonstrate they can be trusted to follow the rules, we can involve them in negotiating agreements to give them more responsibility for their own behaviours. For example, they might negotiate an agreement with you as to when they would do their chores or how much screen time they can have during the week as opposed to the weekend. 

The best thing about agreements is the more your children are involved in the negotiation process, the more likely they are to stick to the rules! In fact, parents often comment that the kids often suggest even harsher consequences than they would have. Surprised? 

Examples of Family Agreements can include:

  • Beds made each day and room tidy before activities.
  • Screen time and technology use – Agreement on time spent online. 
  • Schoolwork completed before online game time.
  • All Phones/devices on the kitchen bench at bedtime.
  • Completion of chores before activities/screen time. 

Top Tips for Negotiating Agreements

  • Be firm, fair and consistent in applying agreements and consequences once you have all established your agreements.  
  • Negotiate more agreements according to the age of each child. As they get older you demonstrate that you are listening to and appreciating their growing need for more independence. 
  • Ask teens to suggest appropriate consequences and then discuss. Whether it be withdrawal of privileges, or pocket money etc let them initiate them. 
  • If they break an agreement calmly remind them of the agreements you made and why they were agreed to, then move to the consequences that apply.  

Negotiating agreements with your older child provides an opportunity to teach them self-discipline while also allowing them to prove to you that they can be responsible.   

Mondays with Fathering Project founder Dr. Bruce Robinson
We want to foster connection, sharing, and collaborating in this time of isolation and need. The Fathering Channel is an online community hub and a source of research-based advice, support, and information. Tune in every Monday for Bruce’s weekly video – packed with fathering advice and tips.
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