Thursday, April 30, 2009

Outsmarted by a Four-Year Old

My daughter has become quite a negotiator. Even though she is only 4-1/2, she has figured out that many things in life are negotiable. For example, when she was younger, I would often encourage her to take "three more bites of vegetables." After a while, she started counter offering with different numbers, sometimes higher and sometimes lower. It wasn't long before she learned that countering with lower numbers were to her advantage.

Last week, our old daughter got the best of me as we were practicing her soccer drills. To make the routines interesting, I offer an incentive for her to work hard. For example, if she kicks more goals than me or scores more points in a drill, a reward is given. Typically that means allowing her to decide what we do in the future, e.g. choosing a restaurant, since she likes dining out.

However, our daughter doesn't like the idea of winning sometimes and losing other times. So she came up with a ingenious idea, giving me a reward of her choice if I win. My first reward? Getting to choose the restaurant when we eat out. As it turns out, this is also a reward for her, since we need to eat out for me to get my reward. So she wins, no matter what.

I thought her suggestion was pretty clever, and agreed to it for this time. However, to get more practice in soccer and other areas, I will likely need to change the reward system. I also realize that I definitely need to further improve my negotiating skills before she reaches adolescence :-)

For more on Crossing Generations, check back every Thursday for a new segment.

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