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Ice Cream Day.

In between our house and my daughter’s preschool is a wonderful park. Every day after school we would stop in the park and play for an hour or so. And everyday, the ice cream vendors with their little bicycle-driven freezers full of joy would circle the park. They know their clientele. For the first few days, my daughter and I would argue about whether or not it was a good day for ice cream. Obviously, in the mind of a four-year-old, every day is a good day for ice cream! Especially an hour before dinner!

Almost every day, at least one friend would strut around the playground with a frozen Spongebob on a stick and temper tantrums would ensue. Most of the time, neither of us walked away from the negotiations feeling very good about how they turned out. I would hate feeling like “mean old mommy” and Aislin would hate it any time I said “no ice cream,” which was most of the time.

Finally, I was struck by inspiration. I told Aislin that she could pick a day and THAT would be ice cream day, come hell or high water. She chose Wednesday and from then on, Wednesday was the day she could look forward to all week as her day for ice cream. Believe me, she never forgot. The other days, if she asked for ice cream, all I had to say was “is it Wednesday?” and most of the time she accepted it. A few times she was able to scam a lick from a friend’s ice cream even on a day that wasn’t Wednesday, and that was fine, too.

Something we say in Positive Discipline is “winning over your children rather than winning OVER them.” Which means eliciting cooperation toward a shared goal rather than enforcing rules. Of course as the parent, I had the power and the authority (not to mention the dollars) to dictate, at random, when my daughter could and could not have ice cream. But when my decisions came down from on high in a way that made no sense to her, my daughter wasn’t cooperative with the rules. There were lots of temper tantrums. But when I took a democratic approach, recognizing her sincere desire for ice cream, and letting her choose the day, I was able to win her over. And it was a win-win because she got ice cream and I got the ice cream consumption to an acceptable level PLUS a reduction in temper tantrums. Isn’t that what makes a successful negotiation?

  03:39 pm, by christinewhitley