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Every Parent is in Marketing & Sales

Nicky BushBetween a diary jam-packed with speaking engagements and organising my two boys' busy school and extramural schedules, January passed in the blink of an eye.  Sunday night is strategy night, and the plan for the week resembles that of a highly classified and important military operation.  Sometimes it takes my breath away.  I'm sure the feelings are similar in many households around the country.

Inbetween all the schedules and busyness, have you ever realised that you are always trying to market to, or sell your child/ren something  - an idea, a value, a point of view, an action to be taken etc:
  • It's time for bed - NOW!
  • Studying for a test IS a good idea.
  • Pack your bags tonight for tomorrow.
  • Carrots make you see better in the dark.
  • There is no monster sleeping under your bed.
  • Don't let the dog lick your mouth - you'll get worms!
  • Sex is only for adults !!!!
  • You are a gorgeous, talented individual.  There is no-one quite like you.
  • I love you to the moon and stars and back (even though you just nearly drove me round the bend!).
With this generation, authority does work (sometimes), particulary in the early years when "because I am your parent and I said so" still has some magical power to it, or if you have actively postiioned yourself as a hero in your child's life story.  But, as children get older  there is a tendancy for them to either think or, even worse, verbalise "Says Who?" or "Who cares anyway?". 

Living in a reward-based culture as we do, where it's so commonplace for us to be rewarded for swiping our credit cards, being loyal to the same airline, store or restaurant, visiting the gym etc, our children could be forgiven for thinking:  "If they want me to do this, what's in it for me, what do I get?"

This is a very real challenge for 21st century parents.  Of course the desired end result after years of parenting is for our children to be intrinsically motivated or self-motivated rather than relying on some form of external bribe etc.  But, from time-to-time, it may be necessary to utilise various "marketing tactics" to get the message across to your child in a fun and playful way, or to get their buy-in until it becomes an adopted habit, value, thought or behaviour pattern.

You are in marketing and sales whether you like it or not! I know this fact wasn't highlighted when you committed to becoming a parent, neither was it detailed in the fine print, but it's true.  Star charts, treats, promises and bribes are all in a parent's marketing arsenal - to be used wisely, of course.  And do watch what the marketers are doing - you could pick up an idea or two to add to your toolkit.  Try these "promotions" for size, my kids loved them:
  • Two for the price of one, eg. "Keep your room tidy for X weeks without being nagged and I won't just take you for a milkshake but you can bring a friend along too".
  • Buy one, get one free, eg  "Unpack your school bags / hang up your towel for a week without being asked and I'll make you your favourite pudding on Friday night and you get to choose Friday night's game / movie!" 
  • While stocks last promotion, eg "Get your homework done before the clock strikes 5pm, otherwise the offer of a game of Wii / or a game with me, runs out".
Have fun and make it enjoyable!

Creative parenting expert, Nikki Bush is an inspirational speaker, author, educational game designer and toy judge. Her work is fuelled by her passion for play and her commitment to helping parents and teachers to find creative ways of connecting with today’s children. You can read more at her website