NEGOTIATION To get something on the job -- say, time off for your sister's wedding -- you frequently need to offer something in return, such as working extra hours before and after the event. "Negotiating involves both sides in decision making," says Phyllis Heath, Ph.D., associate professor of human development at Central Michigan University. At home, give your kids choices, but allow them to make the final decision. For instance, when you're shopping for a coat for your child, show her a few that fit your criteria -- warm, practical, easy to zip -- then let her choose one.
PARTICIPATORY MANAGEMENT Instead of always coming up with solutions yourself, encourage your kids to have a go at problem solving. Perpetually late to daycare in the morning? Even a 3-year-old can be asked for some ways to be on time.
Kira Hessekiel, a 7-year-old in Rye, NY, was constantly leaving clothes on the floor when she took them off -- and her mother, Andi, was constantly nagging her to pick them up. Finally Andi said, "How can we solve this problem?" "We could put up a sign to remind me," Kira suggested. The sign went up; the clothes went away.
DELEGATION OF RESPONSIBILITY Take a look at how you manage your home. Are there things your spouse, kids, or caregiver can do so that you don't have to? Monica Cronin, a lawyer in Miami and the mother of a 5-year-old and 4-year-old triplets, has her babysitter do the food shopping and laundry, and her kids make their beds every morning and pick up their toys at night.
FACE TIME WITH THE BOSS When Nancy Kochuk was an assistant director for marketing and public relations at the University of North Carolina Hospitals, she set up a lunch with her assistant every few months to hear her concerns and make sure there were no problems. Similarly, she schedules some time alone with her 9-year-old son, during which she hears about his friends, his "theories about life," and what he wants to be when he grows up. "Employees appreciate having the chance to tell you what's on their mind and what they need help with," she says. "So do kids."