When it comes to negotiating and getting their way, teenagers can be relentless. They will plead, promise and even haggle to get what they want and then very conveniently forget all the promises they have made during their haggling and negotiating. If your children are like most, they are experts at wearing you down just to get their way.
They come up with the most creative ways to manipulate you and the sad part is most parents give in most of the time because they are tired or stressed from a long day at office or other such reasons. When we step way back we can see that children can only manipulate us because we allow their behaviour to be effective. They have learned over time and through using some typical behaviours such as emotional blackmail, lying, tantrums, crying, hurtful words, negotiating relentlessly, dividing and conquering or playing the victim that they can get what they seek. The danger is when these behaviours become a way of life.
In a world run by adults, this is a way for your child/teenager to exercise influence and she will find ingenious ways to do so. In fact it is developmentally appropriate as it exhibits drive, initiative and passion. However parents have to help their child to use these traits properly, balance it with self-control and respect boundaries.
As a parent when you feel that your child is trying to push you around or take advantage of you, it isn’t easy to remain calm and you lose your temper.
Tips for parents who are stuck in the manipulation cycle:
Recognise manipulative behaviour so you don’t get sucked in by them.
Know behaviours that upset you as this will help you ward manipulation to a certain level.
Show no emotional response when your child starts the whining, guilt tripping, or blaming, just ignore it. They need to know that your word is set in stone; once you’ve told them something, that’s the way it is – no questions asked.
Remember though, that children can only manipulate us if you permit them to. Manipulation is all about control and if you want it back, you will have to stand your ground firmly. It takes two to tango, but only one to change this pattern.