As Little Chick feels safer with us and in our home, he becomes less compliant. The so-called honeymoon period is over. On one level, this is great news. He feels comfortable and confident enough to show us his true self. He is lowering his protective mask. However, on another level, this is bad news for us. We now have a tiny tyrant trying to rule the roost. And we will not negotiate with terrorists.
However, we will make Little Chick think he’s getting his own way, by offering him two options. The key point is that both options keep us happy.
We have also added more complex transactions where Little Chick may think he is negotiating (and winning) by offering a deal. These generally follow the formula do ‘x and get y’. Again, the key is that we are happy to give y to Little Chick, because it is healthy (in the case of food and drinks), safe, or was due to him anyway.
Little Chick loves this, especially because we seal the deal with a firm handshake, a nod of the head, and proclaim ‘deal’. This makes him feel grown up. He feels consulted and included, which is better for him. He usually does what we ask, quickly and without fuss, which is better for us.
Edit: With hindsight, the playfulness of this exchange is core to the principle of PACE (Playfulness; Acceptance; Compassion; Empathy), which many place at the heart of Therapeutic Parenting. We find that we have the most parenting ‘wins’ with Little Chick whenever we are playful. Though it isn’t always easy, and we often need to remind ourselves to be a bit silly rather than too stern, especially when tiredness is affecting us all.