Group last evening was a good example of our philosophy of emergent curriculum in action. Because we are in post holiday season, there is a lot of consideration going into gifts kids got, gifts they didn't get, and gifts their peers got. The opening discussion drifted hard toward variations on how to persuade your parents that you are mature enough for/ deserving of a game or product that they have said no to.
Rather than attempt to steer the conversation back to the planned curriculum, we instead jumped both feet in to the interest that the kids brought to the group. One of the kids even suggested a role play with Kids Cooperate director Aaron Weintraub in the role of "oppositional parent". Here are a few tips for effectively persuading parents that the group generated:
1. Don't start with any variation of I want-need-deserve. Begin by requesting a dialogue and recognizing their previously articulated concerns. "I would like to talk to you about ________. I realize that you are concerned that I am not ready to_________."
2. Make your case for what has changed since the first time you discussed the issue. This could be something external and contextual, or internal. Internal changes could be something such as having considered the issue, and come up with an offer of something you are willing to do/change/improve.
3. Be prepared to demonstrate, not promise. If you make an offer to change, be prepared to quantify that offer. For example, instead of "I will clean up more" try, "I will do the dishes at dinner, vacuum 2 times per week, and walk the dog once a day. I will use a chart to keep track of my responsibilities."
4. Be prepared for "no". Gracefully accepting "no" is another very effective way of demonstrating a change in your maturity level, and could very well improve your chances for next time you try to persuade someone of something. A meltdown closes many doors.
Pro Tips: One of the group members pointed out the importance of coming prepared with what you want to say so that you sound confident and articulate. Sounding unsure, or appearing to make offers on the fly reduces that extra effectiveness that comes from offering a well considered appeal.