Should I Compromise With Them?

QUESTION:

Is there ever a time to compromise with children?

Answer:

There does need to be room for reevaluating a decision on your part. A very common concern when using this tool is, “If I continue this, won’t they just learn that they can walk all over me?” I do understand these feelings and the concern, but I don’t think they’re warranted. The fact that they are asking you to compromise shows they know you are the one with the power. I think what might help more is you getting more confidence in that fact yourself. Only the ruler can decide to be benevolent or not. There are many times I will reconsider. If I ask myself why I’m saying no and I have no good reason, then I consider ways to say yes within boundaries I’m comfortable with. But when my no is no, I don’t hesitate to state, “There is no discussion of this. This is the way it is.” They can then be sad, or grumble (although we’re working on this one after studying the Israelites in the wilderness), but what I say goes.

For me, a lot of the balance comes in remembering that we’re in the teaching stage and not yet to the correcting one. My expectations of them are based on whether or not I’ve taught them something clearly, and if they’re still struggling with it, then I figure I haven’t taught it well enough yet. Once I know they’ve got it down, then we move into the correcting stage.

I also make sure that, in the compromise, I am not giving away my authority. “Mommy hears you saying that this means more to you than I realized. Let’s see what compromise we can reach.” Or, “I have reconsidered. You make a good argument and I want to see if we can make this happen for you.” I also do try to find ways to have a better idea that will meet both of our needs. Compromise is a step down from resolution – maybe I’m not willing to go to the McDonald’s playplace, but I am willing to make snacks and go to the park. If they like that idea better, then we’re all winners.

I also don’t think you can compromise too many times. Compromise, to me, is different from giving in. Giving in involves turning your power over to the child. Compromise means you step back from your position and work to find a settlement agreeable to all. Compromise is something I want to model. Now, when my children are adamant about something, I see them beginning to figure out ways to compromise. Just today, I needed to take a nap; Liam wanted to play with a large toy in his room and Fiona wanted to watch a movie in the living room that my husband had put on for her before he left the house, but Fiona is terrified sometimes to be alone (of course, this was one of those times). Once we all had our stated concerns on the table, it was easy for all of us to see that Liam bringing his big toy into the living room would allow all of our needs to be met. Problem solved and peace reigns again.