Are you that doting parent that simply can’t bear to see a teardrop from your child’s eye, or that lovely smile dissipate into a frown or sad face? And you’ll do anything to keep that beaming smile on your child’s face?
Well, you just might be down with a severe case of ‘Manipulatitis’. You might be thinking, “what on earth do they mean.” Well, as a parent, if you constantly find yourself in a situation whereby your child always wins, then you just might be affected by the aforementioned condition.
To some, this might seem to be a normal situation where you feel they should have their way, after all, they are just kids right…? And it might also seem quite sweet, as they carry out their eye-fluttering gestures which disillusions you into only seeing the sun shining out of their eyes.
But according to some studies, children might behave in this way because they are vying for attention and trying to get you as the parent to listen. These kids can feel isolated and have needs which they feel haven't been met. There are certain types of parents that are more likely to fall prey to manipulation. They include:
It doesn’t really matter whether you fall into one of these categories or not, the main thing is to know how to successfully stop your child from manipulating you. This won’t happen overnight, but it is possible (over time) to overturn this.
Carve out More Time Together
No matter the age of your child, it is crucial to put time aside to spend with him or her - especially when you sense an increase in their manipulative behaviour. This act of bonding will make your child feel much safer and secure. He/she will see this as an opportunity to not only have you to themselves for a bit but also to have themselves heard during that ‘together’ time.
It is quite understandable that not all schedules allow for a smooth and easy allocation of time for bonding ones’ child but remember, it’s not so much about the amount of time you spend with your child, as it is about the quality of the time spent together. You don’t need to wait until you can plan a day’s outing with your child before you decide to hang out. It could be that 15-20 min block of time that you have – which would be more than enough to discuss your child’s day at school for starters. You might even be able to slot in more than one block of the same amount of time, during the course of the day, and if not, well…. that was something. And it will definitely be better than nothing at all!
Needless to say, an ample expression of love and appreciation at these times should be the way forward. This act in itself could go a long way in reducing the manipulative tendencies in your child.
Set Reasonable Limits
Children need guidance. Setting reasonable limits will help in providing just that. Furthermore, most children are actually ok when it comes to rules, as they provide that much-needed structure in their lives – especially at the early stages. This tends to reduce as your child gets older, and that much structure is no longer as necessary.
Should your child put up any form of resistance to with the limits you've set, it is your duty as their parent to be strong and hold your ground. There would also be no need to justify the rule, but rather calmly discuss the situation, should usually put things into better perspective – even if to just keep the peace.
The discussion might include your child making comparisons between you and their friend’s parents, who might be perceived to be more lenient in certain cases. Don't let the comparison make you doubt your parenting skills. You're the one who knows what's best for your child.
Steer clear of Power Struggles
If there ever was a parenting rule to follow, it would be to absolutely steer clear of power struggles between you and your child. If your child decides to take a completely different stance to the instructions you’ve given, there’s no need to continually insist that it be done immediately. Simply make your point and restate the fact that there will be consequences if the instruction remains in dispute, on your child’s part. You’d only be worsening things by arguing with your child.
It is also always quite helpful when a united front is put up, with your other half/partner over the matter. Apart from the fact that yes – there is power in numbers, your child will find it more challenging to go behind and have a separate conversation with the parent your child perceives to be the ‘good cop’.
Implementing these tips will definitely help to steer you in the right direction when it comes to curing you of the ‘manipulitis’ condition. As already stated, it won’t happen overnight, but perseverance will be the key. It is never too late to correct this tendency in your child so the sooner you start, the better.
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