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Careful Mom! Your kids are master manipulators

You might find this hard to believe, but those beautiful children that you brought into the world have a deep dark secret that you might not be aware of just yet. They have the ability to get major information or items from you, even if you don’t want to give it. How do your kids have so much power, you might ask? That’s easy! They are masters at the game of manipulation, and it all began the moment they realized just how much you loved them.

It all began with a baby

It’s a known fact that babies have the innate ability to cry when they need or want something. This never seems to end, actually. As babies begin to grow, they become toddlers who scream when they don’t get their way. They don’t have the ability to speak the words that truly explain their needs or wants, so they rely on their tears and tantrums. This does change, however, once they have the ability to speak. Children begin the process of transforming their emotions into action once they learn how to say what it is that they want you to do.

Take a 7-year-old, for example. If they want a toy, they will talk about how much they will love you forever if you buy it for them. If you refuse, they will show you their wrath. This process teaches them how to discover new ways to get you to do what they want you to do. If you are wondering how such tactics work, just look in the mirror.  When your child sulked because you refused to give them what they wanted, and you then reversed your decision and said ‘Ok, just this once’ you sealed the manipulative deal. Your child then realized that their behavior had the power to yield results.

The ability for children to manipulate their parents has been recognized by psychotherapists who understand the very real problem that this situation brings. Parents become frustrated and exhausted at the idea that they must consistently be on the watch for an attempt by their children to use emotion to get what they want. In the book “Keys to Single Parenting” by Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., he referred to child based manipulation as ‘emotional extortion’ and he states that this occurs most during a child’s adolescence.

“During adolescence, when getting freedom from parents becomes increasingly important, manipulation of parental authority through lying, pretense, and pressuring becomes more common,” according to Pickhardt. He goes on to state that when pleading and arguing fail to win a parent over or back a parent down, the tactics of emotional extortion tends to come into play. All of this as a means in which to get a parent to change their mind so that they can get what they want.

Being manipulated by your child is nothing to ignore. If you fail to deal with any noticeable manipulation tactics from your children, you will only assist in their desire to later take this action into their adult years. All behavior is learned behavior, and if manipulative tactics being used by your children aren’t discussed and dealt with, they will begin to believe that this tactic can work on anyone.

You can end manipulative tactics by being the light that eliminates the unspoken darkness in the room. If you notice that your child is attempting to manipulate you through bad behavior, simply tell them what you see and how you feel about it. Let them know that you recognize their lack of happiness about your decision, and that you also recognize that they are attempting to change your mind utilizing bad behavior. After you discuss this problem with them, make sure that they are aware that their behavior might lead to consequences. By being honest in your communication with your child, they will see that their actions hold no merit and no power.

Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to your children and don’t worry that they will hate you for not providing them with everything they want. You may not be popular with your children, but you will be teaching them how to deal with decisions and outcomes that fall outside of their desire. This is the best lesson that they can learn, and one that only you can teach.

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About Audra L.

Audra L. is an author, columnist and community activist who's dedicated to finding truth through research and effective communication. She received her degree in Public Policy and teaches Community Development, Public Speaking and Communications Law to youth throughout the nation. She is the recipient of over 23 awards and honors for her commitment to community outreach initiatives.

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