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Manipulative Children

on March 8, 2012

How can you stop manipulative children form controlling you?  Dealing with an adult who manipulates is one thing, but dealing with a child is quite another.  Our society has become quite permissive and we seem to be churning out children who see manipulation as an accepted form of socialization.  Childhood is the place where the hot buttons are installed and children, according to their temperament,  can develop the characteristics of the manipulator (bully) or the victim (target).  Fortunately, as a child develops, you can aid them in developing appropriate social skills, tolerance, and compassion.

  1. Be the adult and take control of the situation:  your child may throw tantrums, cry, stomp, sulk and whine, but you can’t give into their theatrics.  A lot of people give in to the child’s desires just to get the whole scene over with.  That decision only shows the child just how effective their techniques are and the next thing you know, you are training a future manipulator.
  2. Follow through with your threats:   don’t tell the child you are going to do something, if you are planning to capitulate to their demands.  Send them into the time-out corner or to bed early if you have told the child that is the consequence of her/his  actions.  Give them consistency.
  3. Be firm with your decisions:  when the child is a little older, explain to them why what they did was inappropriate and put everything into perspective.  Don’t allow the tantrum to back you off of your position or soften your stand.
  4. Be logical instead of emotional:   when dealing with children, prepare for a storm.  Children will try their best to appeal to you in every way possible.  When the conversation turns into an argument, use logic to make your point. 
  5. Explain your own emotions:  sometimes children don’t realize that their manipulative ways are hurting other people and how it is wrong to manipulate others for their own benefit.  Own your feelings and tell your child in an “I feel…when you…and I would like…. statement”.  Do this when you have plenty of time and the child doesn’t have a lot on her/his mind.  A quick conversation at the breakfast table before getting ready for school and work is not adequate to address the issue.  Set aside a time when the child’s focus is not scattered and demand their full attention.  It is best to turn off all electronic items and set your talk in a quiet environment.

Fighting for what they want is a human response that we all have.  You, as the parent, have a choice to make in the raising of your child.  He/she can learn to be assertive, not aggressive, and to have tolerance and compassion.  These are traits that are missing from the repertoire of the manipulator.

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