We heard about using “compromises” with kids from several real parents. You know…the people who have been caring for kids for more than a few days.

It sounded like a great way to empower kids to use their voices, while helping them learn that they couldn’t always have their way. Or at least their whole way.

Two big wins for communicators who thought it was important to be others-focused at any age.

We started off by teaching our foster kids what a compromise was. We used an example. If I said we needed to leave in 5 minutes, you could ask for a compromise of leaving in 10 minutes.


To get the ball rolling, we rewarded anyone who asked for a compromise. And all of sudden, the ball was flying.

Compromises became a family go-to.

It was great fun watching their minds get the hang of it. Little Nick, our five-year-old external processor, would walk through some outlandish options until he figured out one that seemed reasonable enough to him. Sometimes we still had to reign him in a bit. But eventually we’d find a happy medium together and he would respond with a very business-like “that’s fair.”

While yes wasn’t a guarantee, it was a pretty safe bet. And yes for a kid is pretty much always a good thing. Especially for foster kids who get state-mandated no’s to things that should never get a no.

After a couple months of finding our rhythm with it, we asked the kids what they thought. Victor’s answer said it best – “compromises help me.”

Done. Compromises are pro-kid. And we want to be pro-kid.


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  1. Pam

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I also compromise with my children for some things. My son has Asperger’s and is otherwise very strong willed. So I can’t just pop up and say “go clean your room.” This messes with his internal schedule of HIS plan. (Keep in mind he is 15 years old. Had I structured room cleaning at an early age, I might have prevented the problems I am having now, but when I was supposed to be teaching him that, I was simply trying to cope with learning how to deal with a child who had no idea what a consequence was.) So to get him to clean his room, I have to say, sometime today you need to clean your room. If he replies with a schedule of his plans, and he does, I have to say well your room will be cleaned today so find out what you are willing to go without to accomplish it. If you can’t figure out something to go without, than I will help you do that.

    A parent has to learn to be flexible while at the same time creating structure, respect, and obedience. A paradox if you will.

    Parenting: It is one of the toughest jobs in the world. Parenting kids from hard places or kids with special needs, is the toughest job in the world. Most of the time, we won’t know if we get it “right” until they are parents themselves and come back and say “thank you.” All the while society (and family) is watching ready to give judgment at a moments notice.

    I love what you wrote! Bless you.

    • Liz

      “A parent has to learn to be flexible while at the same time creating structure, respect, and obedience.” Such a great way to put it. Thank you for sharing your stories and your wisdom.

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