If you have ever felt or said, “You’re manipulating me!”, you are not alone. It’s’ a familiar feeling and in a way, true. Your children are masters at manipulating you!
Children learn at an early age what to say and do to get what they want. It’s a human drive to fulfill our needs or goals. It started with crying and being picked up. It’s good for babies to get their needs met.
The problem arises when they learn how to “get your goat” in order to get what they want. This doesn’t feel good at all….does it?
Some children love to use guilt.
- “You never let me do anything.”
- “You’re so mean.”
- “If you cared you would…..”
Or, how about…
- “You don’t care about what I want.”
And the biggest guilt trip of all…
- “You love….. more than me!”
Your children probably can’t tell you why they use those “manipulative” words. They have learned from their surroundings that when you feel bad about yourself, guilty, you feel pressured to feel better so granting their wishes takes away their pain and makes you feel better! You feel less guilty for the moment.
The problem is that you continue on this cycle unable to stop it and take control.
Here’s another commonly used tactic by tweens and teens.
If you’ve used threats with your kids, they quickly pick up on this tactic and use threats in return to get what they want.
It goes like this.
When you are really frustrated because you have told them over and over again, you say, “If you don’t put your clothes away now instead of leaving them in the basket, then I’m taking them away since you aren’t treating them with care.”
Bingo! They have just learned how to get power over you. Especially tweens and teens pick up on this manipulation format.
In response they say, “ If you don’t give me extra time on my tablet then I’m not going to do any homework. It’s your choice.”
Or when they are teens and want to go somewhere, they can pull a threat by saying, “If you don’t drive me to the party I’ll go anyways and you won’t know where I am. It’s your choice.” (This happened to me and I admit that I drove her.)
It’s really hard to not be controlled this way. Using these manipulative forms of communication can lead you to have self-doubt about your authority and ability to make decisions. It’s good to self-reflect about your parenting which is different from doubting yourself when under pressure. When doubting yourself, you may think:
- Should I let my child go?
- Am I being unfair?
- Maybe I’m being too strict.
- Should I give in this time because I’ve been too strict?
- Am I showing favoritism?
How do you change this lack-of-control cycle? What will guide you is a proven process of self-reflection and change. The answer is to learn about and use the Think-Feel-Do Cycle which will guide you in figuring out what’s gone amiss and how to fix it. You can learn how to stop being controlled by your kids and gain control over yourself instead.
You can learn about the Think-Feel-Do Cycle in the Win, Win, Win Parenting program. Find out more about the program by clicking HERE.
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Cynthia is available for private coaching sessions so you can quickly get the answers you need and make those much need changes right away. Click HERE for a complimentary 45-minute Fast-Track Clarity Session to learn what you can do now to create more harmony in your home.