Manipulative Behavior in Kids
Dealing with manipulative kids is tricky. Kids know how to wear parents down at just the right times and get what they want. And if parents are relaxed and in a good mood, they can even see the potential lawyer coming out in their child. It's a bit entertaining. But unfortunately, kids pick battles and manipulate when parents are tired, stressed and preoccupied, and that's when they win! Dealing with manipulative children requires a few strategies.
Kids may stomp, cry, sulk and throw tantrums all they want, but you can't give in. A lot of people make the mistake of giving the kids what they want just to get the whole scene over with. However, that only teaches the kids how effective their techniques are.
When dealing with manipulative children, you cannot allow yourself to show any sign of indecision or weakness. And this is tough when parents have so much on their plates! Sending your kid to bed early or to time out is hard for any parent, but you need to be consistent with consequences and firm with your decisions.
When dealing with manipulative children, you have to prepare yourself for a storm. Kids will try their best to appeal to you in every way possible. To keep on your path, remain logical. When the conversation turns into an argument, use logic to make your point. Emotions will not be convincing enough and may draw you into drama. Don't argue or battle. State your reasoning in a short and sweet way, and drop it. The manipulative child will try hard to suck you in, but you must resist!
For example, your kid might plead with you to sleep over at his friend's house. He will use every trick in the book to entice you to give permission. But if staying overnight at a friend's is definitely not an option, then use a logical reason that your child will understand. And don't go on and on, but make it brief. And know when to end the discussion.
Sometimes, kids don't understand the affects of their manipulative behavior. If your child is old enough, explain why it's wrong to manipulate others for her own benefit. Share how it feels to be manipulated. And don't have this discussion right after you tell your child "no" or before school or during a busy moment. Wait until there is enough time to relax, check in with your child and share feelings.
Dealing with manipulative children can be challenging. But if you stay firm, consistent and avoid battles, you'll have success!
by Joanne McNulty, MS