How often are you upset by something your child does? If it’s a lot you’re being manipulated more than you realize.
I’ve coachedhundredsof families over the years and it became evident that the busier the family or the more fragile a parent’s self-esteem, the easier it is to manipulate said parent.
Our kids are no dummies. You show them loud and clear what’s important to you and all they have to do is deny it to you to upset you.
“Come on honey we’re going to be late.”
“I’m not going.”
“Listen to me!”
“Why should I?”
The all time classics are the crocodile tears or the Oscar winning tantrums that result in the rescue, the comforting and the guilt fueled 1 on 1 attention.
One of my boys repeatedly threatened to kill himself if he didn’t get his way.
However, not every episode of crying or tantruming is manipulative of course. In the genuine moments, you’re seeing a child feeling hurt or frustrated without knowing how to resolve the problem.
How do you tell the difference between a manipulation or a genuine issue? The faster a child recovers and moves on after not getting what s/he wants, the more likely s/he was pulling your leg.
How do you begin to make yourself less manipulatable?
First, it’s important to understand the difference between reacting and responding.
Reacting has a strong emotional component (usually anger or fear) and is about protecting your pride.
“How dare you raise your voice to me?”
Responding comes from a place of wanting to understand why something is happening?
“Why did you choose to swear at me when other words are available?”
Pushing an emotional button is the quickest way to get from point A to point B. When upset (anger, fear or guilt) is triggered your responses are very predictable. Your child will exploit this as often as possible.
Unless you balance your emotion with curiosity.
Instead of seeking to defend, justify, threaten or bribe, seek to understand.
That’s how you’ll flush out what your child is truly up to.
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