Some children may already jump to negotiating and ask for an unhealthy snack. This is where you can re-offer the choices. However, if your child negotiates with another healthy snack, be open to this negotiation. It may feel unnatural, but it is important to keep the end goal in mind.
In the snack example, this may mean a child asks for bananas. Instead of creating an unnecessary power struggle, remember you just want them to have a healthy snack. Do you have bananas available? Can your child safely eat bananas? If yes, teach your child how to compromise by modeling a compromise. When you say “yes” to your child and follow their idea, it communicates that you value them as an individual. This helps them find their voice and learn that they have an impact on their environment.
Compromises promote the ability to negotiate needs but also demonstrate that an adult is listening to the them. It shows that words have power and can be used to be proactive rather than reactive. By using our words, we are teaching children social skills in a safe environment with trusted people.
This skill can then be generalized to peer communication and play. So even though it may be difficult to “give control” over to a small child, when done appropriately it helps our children to thrive.