Negotiation Parenting: How not to raise a brat in today’s complex world?

  • brat; self esteem; negotiation; parenting

    By Dr Foo Koong Hean

    Qualification : Senior Lecturer - Psychology

    Monday June 19 2017 10:15 AM Comments 0

    “Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about but the hardest thing in the world to do”.

    Raising a child today can seem like a panic-producing, anxiety provoking, and guilt-inducing exercise. There is no dearth of information on how to be a perfect parent and bring up the perfect child and make the entire experience a breeze. It’s hardly ever so. Given the struggles of the modern day parent like living in nuclear families, information overload, excessive peer pressure, competition to earn more…be more…know more. As children start growing older, parenting gradually begins to feel like a marathon that has the intensity of a 100-meter sprint. 

    Given the lack of family infrastructure, considering most couples live in nuclear families, rising up to the parental challenge can become even harder. With people judging every move that you and your child make and the immense challenges that children face in their own space, they need to be exceptionally well-adjusted individuals in order to be successful in a highly competitive environment in this hyper-connected world. Coping with all this cannot be easy, both for the parent and the child, and is bound to lead to some very explosive and nerve wracking arguments.

    Parents are the primary influencers of the emotional climate of children. Thus, it becomes all the more essential to adopt a parenting style that resonates with your own value system. Clearly, we have moved far away from the authoritarian style of parenting that was popular earlier and in most cases was the ‘only’ way to parent. Given the blind obedience and control, this style of parenting demanded, it came as no surprise when this style came under disrepute. The harsh punishments and manipulative and dominating behaviours associated with authoritarian parenting were leaving deep scars on the minds of children.

    As people became acutely aware of the downside of authoritarian parenting, they began to adopt ‘permissive parenting’.  This approach is more indulgent and lenient. However, considering that this approach is non-confrontational, it demands a phenomenal amount of self-regulation from the parent (and God knows how innovative children are when testing your patience). This parenting style places the parent more as a friend than as a parent. Parents who adopt this methodology are more communicative and nurturing, have fewer demands of their children and rarely discipline their children. While one might assume that this parenting style would lead to happy children, studies show that children brought up with this style have self-regulation issues, rank low in the happiness index, and are more likely to experience trouble with authority figures in school. 

    The other end of the spectrum is the ‘uninvolved parent’…one who demands less of the child, is less involved and responsive and is generally quite detached. They do fulfil the basic needs of the child and almost expect the child to grow up by himself/herself. Children brought up in this style generally have low self-esteem and tend to exhibit behavioural problems.  

    Having taken a look at a few popular parenting styles the question is how can we stop parenting from being such an uphill struggle? More often than not, parents have to adopt different approaches at different times so that they raise children who are secure, empathetic and independent and yet, are disciplined. What is the best way to communicate with children so that they understand and then accept what a parent is trying to say? How can we avoid the power struggle and the wars that follow when it comes to getting children to do what’s best for them? Much like the business world, the parenting world can also make do with the golden term ‘negotiation’. Enter ‘Negotiation Parenting’.

    Negotiation Parenting uses knowledge from business, culture, and family, sciences (cognitive neuroscience, food, and medical science), smart parenting styles, strength model, teaching and learning, philosophy, and psychotherapy to inform parents on the know-how to nurture today’s children. With this parenting style, the parents negotiate the journey for the child before he/she is able to contribute physically and cognitively. As soon as the child is ready, the parents join the child negotiating the journey through the world of people, objects, designs and systems that impact the child’s growth and development. Parenting becomes colourful, fun, and manageable as both parents and child ride the mysterious journey that unfolds before them.

    Parenting the 21st-century child demands to adopt smart parenting techniques that are relevant to the family structure and socio-economic conditions. These also have to take into account the environmental influencers that impact a child so that, in the end, we can meet the psychological requirements of a child and help them grow up to be self-assured individuals who are capable of accepting their responsibilities happily.

    Link to book/e-book: (see parenting)  


    Dr Foo Koong Hean biography:






    The opinions expressed in Healthy Mind Online “Specialist Opinion” are solely those of the named Specialist, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Some information have been abridged from the mentioned sources. Nothing in the content should be considered, or used as a substitute for medical advice, psychiatric advice, diagnosis or treatment. This site and its services do not constitute the practice of any medical, psychiatric nursing or other professional health care advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always talk to your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment, including your specific medical needs. We advise users to always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions regarding personal health, medical or psychiatric conditions.

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