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Teaching children to negotiate and debate is one of the best tools we can provide them to be successful in your day to day. We are social animals and that means that most of the time children spend communicating with the people around them (parents, siblings, teachers, colleagues, friends, caregivers, etc.).
Knowing how to communicate assertively is essential to function in our daily life without great difficulties.
Children who know how to communicate assertively are those who do not have difficulty expressing their opinion or defending their point of view and also try to be careful not to offend or bother the interlocutor, trying at all times to the conversation is as friendly and relaxed as possible but without losing sight of your objective.
Being able to transmit ideas, wishes or opinions in a respectful way and at the same time accept points of view contrary to ours, is something that none of us is born knowing how to do but on the contrary it is a skill that we are learning with experience and the passage of the years sometimes.
To teach children to negotiate and debate it is necessary first of all that let's teach you to be assertive And there is no better way to do it than with our own example. However, here are a number of guidelines or key ideas that we must teach children if we want them to acquire the ability to negotiate and debate with other people effectively.
- The absolute truth does not exist. It is important for children to behave in a humble way in any context but especially when interacting with other people. Adopting a arrogant attitude often prevents us from reaching our goal. All points of view are appropriate, none of us have the absolute truth. Starting from this premise, we will be able to defend our position or our arguments with calm, naturalness and freshness, without invalidating or underestimating the point of view of our interlocutor. This attitude can help the child to take his opponent to his ground.
- Actively listen and respect speaking turns. If we want to be heard and respected, we must listen and respect ourselves too. It is essential to introduce the child to the golden rule of social relationships: "Do not do to others what you do not like to be done to you." Many times, when we are negotiating or debating, we are not listening to other people but we are aware of ourselves and prepared to be able to make our arguments at any time. But, this is a mistake since if we do not listen to or are attentive to the arguments that others contribute, we will hardly be able to refute them.
- Know how to present your own arguments. The content of what we say is as important as the way we say it. Children have to learn to communicate their arguments in the most calm way possible, leaving aside emotions such as anger or fear. Expressing what we think is a right so we have nothing to fear but, in turn, we have the obligation not to intimidate, inconvenience or annoy other people with our way of defending our arguments. So it is essential that children learn to say what they think in an appropriate tone, taking care of the distances so as not to invade the personal space of the other person, controlling their body movements so that they are smooth, etc. And, on the other hand, it is necessary that they present their ideas clearly without going around too much or beating around the bush.
- Accept criticism or contrary opinions. Listening to other people's arguments, reflecting on them, and contrasting them with our own is a great way to encourage critical thinking. We must teach children to take into consideration the opinions of others and to find arguments for and / or against to accept or reject them.
- Make requests. We have the right to make requests or transmit to others what we would like them to do, but we must bear in mind that other people also have the right not to agree to our requests. It is of great importance that children internalize this idea. We have the right to ask what we want or need others to do for us, but we must also be prepared to receive a NO for an answer, which of course we will have to accept. But be careful! It is necessary to insist on the difference from making a request to demanding that others do something for us. If we demand of others we are lost and children in most cases do not make requests but resort to demands to get what they want.
- Everybody wins. Most of us have been brought up under the framework of "I win-you lose" relationships, but this is not the smartest thing to do. Why not encourage children to seek solutions and alternatives so that all parties win in the negotiation or debate? This is what is known as "I win-you win." This is not easy, but with creativity and interest children can find a solution or find a point of agreement where it is not necessary for one party to lose for the other to win.
Finally, a great idea is to put into practice what we have learned with our children after having explained all these guidelines. There is no better way to learn than by taking action. A technique that is frequently used is "role playing" which is nothing more than doing a representation to stage what they have been taught. In this case, you can choose a topic that is of interest to the child to start a debate or negotiation process in order to put into practice what was discussed above. And let the debate or negotiation begin!
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