Empowerment Through A Plan

Negotiation always plays a part in the development of a family. As children get older their wants increase, and I feel that you need to place a certain amount of the plan in the hands of these children to learn better choice making and consequences if they follow through or don’t follow through with these plans.

There’s a school dance coming up for our youngest daughter. Her behavior over the past week has been less than ideal for her to be able to go. We decided that she needs to come up with a way that she would show us in writing that she really wanted to go to the dance- the tasks or chores she could do- and the consequences if there are any problems during or following the event.

If you hold children accountable and make the prize within their grasp, they’ll be more willing to buy into the plan. In our case though, we also had to make the penalty something that would make her really think about staying in line. Her initial consequence is something that’s never mattered to her in behavior modification anyways (moving her bed from her bedroom to the living room), so we made her really put something tangible on the line and we’ll see if she keep up her end of the bargain.

You will often find that when you open the discussion and have your children feel like they have some say in what goes on in their lives, they will also set up punishments and consequences much harsher than you imagined. I know earlier on in my oldest daughter’s life, one night of breaking a firm curfew equaled a punishment 3X more severe than what my wife and I envisioned- because we asked her to tell us what she thought her punishment should be.

Encourage your children to think about what you have to go through as a parent- thinking about a person’s well being, their safety, time, budgeting, transportation needs and so forth. Do not engage in power struggles over what one child can do versus another- this seems to be a favorite tactic with my youngest daughter. Each child has individual wants, desires and personalities- so you have to treat each plan you develop accordingly based on their specific talents and abilities.

We will do the same when it comes to budgeting with our children, especially when they earn money through babysitting, special gifts or above and beyond chores. We have savings accounts set up and we will discuss before hand how much they plan on saving and how much they want to spend- as well as what they want to spend their money on. It’s perfectly acceptable to have them understand that not every time they shop they need to spend their money- and that saving for big ticket items often takes a steady, incremental plan over weeks and weeks to achieve the goal.

We have our youngest starting tonight with a big bathroom cleaning activity and we’ll see how she progresses through tomorrow morning’s plans. With the proper attitude she’ll soar when she’s ready to hit the teen years. I think we need to work smarter on including her in the design of her life- because ownership will be the lever to consistent monitoring of her behavior and choices she makes.

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