Feeling the pressure to spend to ensure your children are happy on Christmas morning? Huthwaite International’s CEO and negotiation expert, Tony Hughes is here to help you manage your children’s expectations in the run-up.

As the seasonal toy-advertising blitz reaches its peak, parents are under substantial pressure to overspend on presents. The advertisers, for now, are winning. Research by Mintel suggests that the average person will spend £300 on Christmas presents this year, and one in seven of us will go into debt to cover the cost of the festive season. So are we all slaves to our children’s desires? Certainly, it looks as though we have lost the power to say “no”, even if buying a particular toy will push us into debt. Tony Hughes, CEO at negotiation specialists, Huthwaite International, offers some crucial tips on how to avoid ‘pester power’ during the festive period.

Part of the problem is that it is already a little late to start negotiating. Children have been sold the idea of Christmas as a time of presents and are then somehow expected to understand that giving is limited. They’re also not blind to this year’s Christmas advertising campaigns, between Elton John’s first piano and Argos telling them that unlimited presents can be delivered to the door. This year they may be pestering you for much anticipated toys such as; The Poopsie Unicorn or The Lego Boost, next year it will be something completely different.

For those who feel that saying “no” is an act of cruelty, or else cannot face the inevitable tantrums, help is at hand. Tony has devised a set of principles, developed in the business field that can be applied to parenting.

  1. Don’t start negotiating too early in the year. Parents will start saying: “If you do that, maybe Santa will bring you…” whatever it is. The trouble is that children don’t always understand the word “maybe”.
  2. Avoid agreeing on issues one by If you have made gradual concessions, you will have nothing left to bargain with.
  3. Power is a perception. You have to think: “How much power does this child have?” They may make your life misery for an hour or two, but they won’t run away or disown you if they don’t get the right present.
  4. Don’t just concede, talk about trading (this applies to older children). Youngsters need to learn that life is about trade-offs and compromise. You might say: “We’ll get you the PlayStation, but you have to buy the games.”
  5. Think about levers. One definition of a lever is that it is something that costs you less than the value the other party places on it. Organise treats that don’t cost much but are of high value to the child, such as a visit to a loved friend or a day
  6. Logic is not persuasive. Humans are not logical, and small ones even less so. Avoid giving long chains of reasons. If you must decline a request, state a single strong reason.
  7. If possible, manage expectations early: under-promise and over deliver.

In the endless bright lights of our high streets and shopping centres, these tips might just offer parents the strength to resist a tug at the elbow – or a full-blown tantrum.

For more information, visit www.huthwaiteinternational.com and for thought leadership and opinion from some of the leading minds in the sales and negotiation arena, visit: www.horizons.huthwaiteinternational.com

Authored and contributed by: Tony Hughes, CEO – Huthwaite International