When my daughter was five or six, and she got into trouble along with her older brother, she would overhear me explaining to my son why I would punish him more severely than his sister. Pretty soon, when they both got caught, my daughter would shriek, “You have to punish Peter more than me, because I haven’t reached the age of reason!”
I told her that the more accurately she applied that argument, the less true it would be. (The gears in her little head would spin wildly when I said that.)
In the study, when parents listened to their kids, their kids listened back. They didn’t necessarily always agree, he says. But if one or the other made a good point, they would acknowledge that point. “They weren’t just trying to fight each other at every step and wear each other down. They were really trying to persuade the other person.”
Acceptable argument might go something like this: ‘How about if my curfew’s a half hour later but I agree that I’ll text you or I’ll agree that I’ll stay in certain places and you’ll know where I’ll be; or how about I prove to you I can handle it for three weeks before we make a final decision about it.”
Again, parents won’t necessarily agree. But “they’ll get across the message that they take their kids point of view seriously and honestly consider what they have to say,” Allen says.