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Child Development

Communication - Compromise

Solutions are reached by creating a situation in which all parties get their most important needs met. No solution can be amenable to all if only one person's needs are being met. Therefore, compromise on both sides is a good way to assure that everyone is giving, as well as getting, something positive from the relationship. When dealing with children, it is important to remember that what seems vitally important to them may seem trivial to us. As parents, we need to respect the intensity of their feelings, wants, and desires, without minimizing them. This doesn't mean that we give them everything they desire simply because they want it intensely. It does mean that as adults, we need to see the world through their eyes. By so doing, we can understand their feelings more fully and help them to deal with them.

In a situation where the child's desires and the parent's desires are in conflict it may be necessary to come to a middle ground where both can feel comfortable; where both feel that the solution is meeting their needs.

An example might be:

Your teenager wants money each week to go to the movies with friends. After giving in to his request, a few times the parent realizes that this is becoming a bad habit. The following week when the teen asks for money the parent asks about his allowance money and discovers (utilizing I messages and mirroring techniques) that the teen has more expenses than he is able to budget for and still have money left over for the movies. The parent offers the teen a higher allowance in exchange for extra weekly chores. If the teen wants even more money he has the option of doing extra special chores around the house to earn the money. The teen agrees and the situation is settled. Both are getting their needs met and both are giving a little bit to the other in an effort to get their needs met. There are no power struggles or control issues and each feels comfortable with the solution. If the teen is not willing to do extra chores then s/he does not get the additional money - but the choice is theirs' to make.

In any situation where the child and parent are in conflict, or when either desires to express a thought or feeling to the other, utilizing I messages and active listening skills (without judging, criticizing or interrupting), the situation can be dealt with successfully. There will be no need for flared tempers or inappropriate expressions of anger, and each person involved has the opportunity to feel safe and important in the relationship.

In this situation, the compromise involves the parent giving the teen extra money and the teen giving back by doing extra chores.
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