cover image HOW TO NEGOTIATE WITH KIDS: Even When You think You Shouldn't

HOW TO NEGOTIATE WITH KIDS: Even When You think You Shouldn't

Scott Brown, . . Viking, $24.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03182-5

Brown, a founding member of the acclaimed Harvard Negotiation Project, brings his negotiating skills to the parenting arena. A parent of four himself, he realized that parents can apply the same negotiating skills used at work to their home life. Brown first explains the difference in negotiating styles, which can be summarized as "hard bargaining" and "accommodating." Put simply, the former want to lay down the rules while the latter may be too willing to give in to their children's demands. The key to using negotiation tactics successfully as a parent is to "balance coercion with persuasion." Toward that end, Brown advises parents to focus on the problem, not the child. He says, "Rather than turn on your children, turn to the issue.... One way to focus on the problem rather than on your child is to regard yourself as an observer of the dispute." Other useful tenets include working on solutions together, creating options rather than narrow choices and making rules rather than threats. Brown offers advice on related parenting issues such as discipline and listening; his suggestions on engaging kids in longer conversations without seeming to interrogate them are sound. Many hypothetical conversations—both productive and not-so productive ones—are included to illustrate the author's points. This is a first-rate advice book that parents with children of any age will find helpful. (Feb.)