How to Negotiate With Teenagers

From what she eats to how late she can stay out, your teen is always looking to benefit just a little more, and that's turned her into a master negotiator. While it’s perfectly acceptable to negotiate with your teen, according to James Lehman (1946-2010) at, you shouldn’t allow every discussion turn into a negotiation.

Start your negotiations by setting limits, according to Lehman 1. For example, if your teen wants a car for his 16th birthday, negotiate with him. Tell him that as long as he keeps his grades up and gets a part-time job, you will pay for half of his car. You get your way; he pays for half of his car and still gets good grades and you no longer have to worry about driving him to and from school and he gets his way, which is a car. When you limit his ability to drive by ensuring his grades are good, you are showing him that you are willing to negotiate, but that you are not willing to concede.

Set aside time to sit down with your teen and discuss your negotiations, advises Dr. Phil McGraw, a mental health professional and talk show host, at During this time, tell your teen what you want and listen to what she wants. Say she wants a later curfew. Hear her out as she provides her reasons. When she’s done, provide your reasons behind her current curfew. Once you’ve both laid your cards out, discuss how you can negotiate the subject, such as keeping the same curfew on school nights and letting her stay out a half hour or an hour later on weekend nights. When you look at both sides of the debate, it helps the negotiation process.

Stay calm, according to Lehman. Negotiations are not fights. Do not yell or tell your teen to behave or allow matters to get out of hand. Part of the art of negotiating is that both parties are looking for a settlement that both can abide by. By keeping things calm, both sides are more willing to compromise to reach the end of negotiations and terms everyone agrees upon. Negotiating is an art your teen will use for the rest of his life, which means you need to teach him to negotiate correctly.