How Do You Know if Your Child Is Manipulating You?

Reviewed on 7/7/2021

Children are unbelievably intuitive and smart. As they get older, you know if your child is manipulating you if they say hurtful things, are disrespectful, ignore you, refuse to talk to you and do other manipulative things.
Children are unbelievably intuitive and smart. As they get older, you know if your child is manipulating you if they say hurtful things, are disrespectful, ignore you, refuse to talk to you and do other manipulative things.

Children are unbelievably intuitive and smart. As they get older, they learn to gauge your behavior and weakness. They may intentionally or unintentionally use your mannerisms for their gains. If you see the following signs in your child, you can be certain that your child is manipulating you:

  • Saying hurtful things
  • Being disrespectful to you for no reason
  • Blatantly ignoring you
  • Refusing to talk to you
  • Creating doubt in your mind
  • Telling lies that aren’t acceptable
  • Emotionally blackmailing you
  • Starts crying a lot
  • Throwing tantrums
  • Refusing to eat at mealtimes

Why does your child manipulate you?

Children may have many reasons for manipulating their parents. These could be for material gain or emotional need. Whatever it may be, this attitude should not be encouraged. It can have negative consequences on your child’s psyche. Some of the common reasons why your child tries to manipulate include

  • To get whatever they want
  • To provoke you or settle the score for not letting them do what they wish to do
  • To take advantage of the fact that a child’s happiness is more important to their parents
  • To get your attention
  • To create anxiety in you to buy things for them so that they fit in with their peers or social circles
  • To feel powerful
  • To garner love and attention
  • To hide their mistakes
  • To help express their feelings
  • To express fear, frustration or overwhelm
  • To express distress about a new sibling in the house

How can you overcome your child’s manipulation?

If your child is masterful at finding innovative ways to wear you down to get their way, you might think they are selfish. However, it is essential to realize that it is natural for kids to want what they want and try to get it at all costs. As parents, it is natural for you to get frustrated and tired. At times, you may also give in to these behaviors. However, it is critical to draw a line and stop the pattern of manipulation. Some ways to overcome your child’s manipulation include

  • Always respond but never react: Reacting may always result in a never ending conflict. Hence, respond wisely to your child’s request. For example, you can respond to your child’s request by saying, “I know that you feel bad for not having that but trust me, we will work it out together.”
  • Don’t be emotionally blackmailed: Never fall for these words, “You don’t love me anymore.” It is emotional blackmail. The mere thought of giving all happiness to your children would always make you fall for this trick. Before getting carried away, always ask yourself this question, “Is it important to keep my child happy or prepare them for the world.” If the latter is the one you chose, don’t react to emotional blackmail.
  • Stop negotiating: Always set clear expectations for any areas your child might consider questionable. For example, if you have a curfew at 11 p.m., do not waiver from that. Consistency is the key to parenting.
  • Hold them accountable: Always hold your child responsible for their poor decisions and manipulative behavior. Let your child know that attempting to manipulate you is unacceptable and has consequences.

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References
WebMD: "6 Ways Your Teen Is Playing You." https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/6-ways-your-teen-manipulates-you#1

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