Six Steps to Teaching Children Effective Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is a skill that we use everyday, consciously or subconsciously. It is not a skill that is built into our DNAs - it is something that we learn because we have come to realize that we live in a planet with limited resources. We share resources through a series of give-and-take. There are formal structures of negotiation that we use to establish boundaries, jurisdiction or resource allocation. As parents, we recognize the value of teaching our children effective negotiation skills so that they can have access to the resources that they need to succeed in life. As their first teachers, there are six important steps to pass on this important skills to your little ones.


Before you can succesfully teach a skill to anyone, you must first be the student. Although you use this skill often, you should first determine whether you are an effective negotiator. Do you typically get the results you hoped for? Does negotiation make you stressed out or emotionally drained? Make an honest assessment of your skill. If you think you need more training, go find it. A good teacher is one who realizes his limitations and does something to correct it.


Children learn by example. Let them hear you haggle at the market or with the plumber. Take every opportunity to negotiate as an opportunity to teach. Be mindful however of your actions lest you become the bad example. You want to be sure your negotiations take place in the highest light of morality, respect, and decency. Otherwise, that is what you are teaching. So take step 1 seriously and learn the art of negotiation.


Although we are presented with many instances to negotiate, children need some supervision in going through the process. Creating a situation where they need to negotiate will give children the opportunity to flex their negotiating muscle. For example, if you have several children, give them one toy and ask them how they will avoid fighting. Let them realize that they can be happy even with limited resources.


This is an opportunity-driven situation. In the example above, children will try to manipulate or cajole their parents to intervene in their behalf. Exercise control and learn that in the vast majority of situations, even when the outcome is repeatedly unfair in your eyes, it is ultimately best to let children work out the problem. Let them know however, which resolutions are acceptable, and which are not (e.g. violence is a no-no), by doling out appropriate feedback and giving constructive suggestions when possible.


An important skill in learning to negotiate is self-confidence. It gives you the impetus to continue to work for a solution even when nothing has worked so far. Teach your children confidence by praising their achievements, however little it may seem to you. Hearing praise from parents will give children the confidence to move on. It should however be sincere as children are very sensitive to deception.


Teach them that adversities are part of life and that sometimes we fail. Part of being an effective negotiator is making mistakes. Don't make a big deal out of it, shake it off and move on. It's alright to make mistakes because you learn what not to do.

Negotiation is a lifelong process. It is therefore important to take the time and make the effort to teach your children effective negotiation skills.


Help your child practice by creating opportunities to negotiate with you in a safe environment. Giving your children the space to negotiate lets them know their thought are important and empowers them to change things in life that they don't like. Therefore, challenge your child with real-life negotiation opportunities.

  1. "Son, we said we'd go to bed by 7pm but we still haven't finished dinner. What do you think we should  do? Should you give you more time to eat or stick to our bedtime?"
  2. "Daughter, I was thinking of giving you fifty cents for candy but I think you've had a lot of sugar lately and I'm not sure this is good for you teeth. Any ideas how we can work through this?" 

Image courtesy of [ambro] /

We at Successful Modern Child are determined to share our success-building respectful, effective, and loving communication tools with others parents and educators. Help us help others raise successful modern children. We welcome you to forward this article to others or use it in your newsletter, blog, or site. Simply copy and paste with the following credit line: This article was written for parents and educators by family communication expert Gabi at

SMC was created by Gabi, MA in Psychology, International Parenting Expert and Family Therapist. Gabi's research into raising successful modern children has taken her around the world. She has taught and inspired groups in Israel, USA, Panama, Peru, and Cambodia. Gabi guides parents to their fullest light around the globe in group teleconference and live workshops. Gabi also takes a very limited number ofone-on-one clients for transformational parenting, family, life, and trauma therapy. You may reach Gabi directly at

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Mata Biru said...

The point finding a teacher really helps me. I entered a course and got a great feedback on how to negotiate better

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Alicia | Fresh Baby Gear said...

Effective negotiation skills are the necessary skill for your child.
“As a negotiator, you will always want to look for solutions that will leave the other side satisfied as well.” If one child feels cheated, then the outcome isn’t good for both children.
Thanks for your tips, it's userful.