Ah yes, manipulation. One little word that has so much meaning for Moms. We know the word and we swear that it won’t happen to us. No, we will not fall prey to our children trying to get their own way no matter how they resort to trying to get it. We will not be taken for a fool by our pint-sized mini me’s. Still, many Moms who have these good intentions let them fall by the wayside. Maybe the little one was recently sick so we take pity. Maybe we’ve been busy at home and work and are too exhausted to see the obvious. Or maybe we just think our children are perfect. Well, they are, but of course if we don’t watch out, that kind of thinking will lead to us having blind spots when it comes to bad behavior. We will just keep making excuses for everything.
We’ve all been there. There is no shame. And it is usually the parents that don’t think their little angel is capable of manipulation, so we get sucked in to the child’s games of control relatively quickly. Now, it’s normal for all children to test. It’s healthy even. But what's important is that Mom recognizes what's going on, sees the need, and meets that need in a positive way by encouraging positive behavior. No more coddling them. First though, Moms need to admit when they’ve been had, so to speak. Only then can new tools be put into place. So here are 15 signs the kids know how to manipulate parents:
15 Kids Cry To Get Their Way With Everything At Home
Oh poor little Billy. He really wanted to play five more minutes before bath and Mom told him he needs to put the toy down and get ready for bed. He feels so sad and starts to cry. She thinks to herself, “Well, what harm can five more minutes do?” Guess what Mom? Billy has just learned that if he cries for long and hard enough he will get his way.
Don’t worry. All Moms, new and veteran, make this mistake. And trust me, the sophistication of manipulation increases with age, but that’s another story. The important thing the next time is to tough it out. That’s right. He needs to learn that when Mom says it's time for bed, it's time to stop playing. Now, no matter what age, Mom can give Billy a five minute heads up about play time coming to an end if that makes it easy. But Mom should not let Billy’s crying be the deciding factor.
14 Kids Are Up All Night With Friends And So Is Mom
Ah yes, the sleepover, or what about when friends stay over late on weekends? The little one does not want to sleep. At first he is too wound up, and if Mom doesn't have the bedtime routine clearly in her head to keep him/her on track, a child will see this, and, you got it, milk it for all it’s worth. It doesn't matter if they're two, three or eight. Kids see when Mom is a little distracted and will pull the “please can I stay up later." And then the bargaining begins.
When they're little, it's done with screaming and crying, and when older, with words mixed in with screaming and crying. Mom has to be careful and vigilant, sticking to a bedtime schedule even when there are visitors or sleepovers. Some flexibility can be arranged, but Mom needs to enforce a routine and be a little military about carrying it out, or little Miss or little Mr. will get the upper hand.
13 Kids Act Up In Store So Mom Will Give In
Oh my goodness. This one has happened (or will) to every Mom out there right now. As a matter of fact, most stores know this, and guess what they put up at the cash when you are waiting with your little person in line? Candies, little toys, trinkets. The little boy or girl will inevitably want it at that moment, will start to fuss and yell, and, we know it's not right, but sometimes, just once, we will buy it so they will just be quiet and not make us look like the world’s worst Mom, right?
Well, it’s a normal reaction to have, but one that needs to be curbed if we want to teach baby, child, or older kid that no means no. Mom needs to be prepared to rough it out with a tantrum or two. She could even warn the child in advance if they are older, reminding them that if they fuss, Mom and child must exit store.
12 Kids Play Mom And Dad Off Each Other
“But Dad said I can have another cookie. Dad let me stay up.” Or baby crying when Dad says no and turning cheek away running to Mom’s arms. Sound familiar Moms? And yes, little babies learn to play Moms and Dads off one another from pretty much a year on. They are crafty and watch for signs of breakdown in couple communication. This is when they try their luck in extracting more of something or getting extensions of time or more food or a toy.
Parents need to be on the same page at all times, not an easy thing to do, but mandatory so the little one knows who's the boss and makes the rules. Yes, sometimes Mom will be giving the final verdict, and sometimes Dad will be. But the thing is, both parents should have agreed to this in advance. This is when there will be peace in the valley, and the child will learn their place in the pecking order of the family which is in their best interest.
11 Kids Act Out With Babysitters
Pretty much at the beginning of their little lives, children will watch their parents’ cues when they are around other people with them. Particularly when parents do the daycare or preschool drop off, how they act around the other adults will show the children they can trust these adults and their parents. As well, it will show them that their parents will come back for them. Kids will feel secure, and have no need to act out against their caregivers.
Some kids, though, who feel a shaky relationship to other adults and feel conflicted with their parents, will deliberately act out with sitters so their parents will never leave them alone. This is not healthy for anyone, and is a strategy as the child feels out of control. This is when parents need to take the reign. They need to make sure they are setting positive boundaries with their child and for their child with other adults. Disrespect should not be tolerated in any form.
10 Kids Make A Mess Not To Toilet Train
Hey, who wouldn’t want to stay in a diaper and let nature run its course so they could play and have fun while someone else tidies up the mess, so to speak? Well, most kids nowadays. And think of it, Moms. They make those disposable diapers so darn comfy and cozy and the little ones don’t even feel the wetness on their skins or get as many diaper rashes as before. So can we blame them when we want to start toilet training and they say no? Not really. Still, life is rough, kid. Suck it up and we need to do toilet training.
All jokes aside, if parents take the firm yet gentle stance of introducing the concept of toilet training in a fun and slow way so kids don’t feel threatened, chances are little Sir or Miss won’t be making a pee or poop mess on the floor to show their disapproval of the process. And of course, remember parents, they need to clean up the mess themselves. If older, completely. If younger, with minimal assistance.
9 Kids Refuse To Eat And Fuss To Get Junk Food
Mom’s little easy eater has turned into Mr. or Miss Fussy Pants with um, everything that isn’t pasta, hot dogs or pizza? What’s going on here? Well, barring any sickness or tooth pain, it probably is testing on another level, and yes, kids of ALL ages go through this. Within reason, parents can be flexible, but if the little one will only eat two or three pieces of food and there is no medical reason for it, such as previously mentioned - tooth problems, sickness or a neuro developmental disorder like autism, which cause sensory and food issues - parents need to lay down the law and make sure kids eat what's in front of them, even if not all, then at least a bit of everything.
In our home, we have a rule of trying something once. If he really doesn’t like it, there is something simple offered in response, but not every day. Mom shouldn't be running a restaurant in her home. Kids tend to do this to see how far they can push parents to bend to their will. Yep.
8 Kids Hold Breath If Mom And Dad Don’t Give In
And then there’s the breath holding. All parents have either seen this or known of kids who did this to their parents, or maybe when they were little they did this as children? Control. Control. Control. It’s all about the little ones pushing our buttons to see if we crack under the pressure. Admittedly this is a scary one. Parents need to say in a firm voice to stop and that it is dangerous. Chances are, if parents remain calm, even if they have to bring up a doctor's visit, kids will stop this when they say that Mom is not jumping out of her skin each time they do this.
Steady parents. Kids are seeing how far they can push before a parent pays attention to them. Another thing most parents don’t consider as they're all so busy. When was the last time they spent time talking or playing with their little one? If they showed them positive attention there would be less reason for the child to act up to get attention.
7 Kids Decide When To Nap
Similarly to the kid who wants to stay up all night and see how far they can push the parents, kids refusing to nap or trying to alter their time (against what is good for them), will only be a disaster for all. Now, as long as the nap schedule is still working, then parents need to be firm about nap and make sure the little one is in bed or crib resting during the prescribed time. If changes or tweaks need to be done, it’s the parents who decide, always. Never the child.
The child who is allowed to dictate this, will rule the roost, and not in a good way. Next will come chaos with meals, playing, and other behaviorial problems, both due to lack of structure being imposed on them and over tiredness. Parents could give the little ones small choices in what they could do depending on age, but the big rules need to be decided by Mom and Dad so the little one does not get the upper hand and complicate life for themselves and their parents.
6 Kids Refuse To Share Toys
Not sharing toys is pretty universal in the baby world at first. Children have that mine concept and are very egocentric, only thinking about their own needs. Parents need to keep this in mind and not get angry. However, if after Mom or Dad has corrected and repeated to the child about sharing and said child is still not sharing or grabbing other children’s toys, more intense measures have to be taken. Junior needs to be told he can’t do that or he needs to leave the playground.
Parents cannot give in and let “the kids work it out” unless they are over five years old. Babies need reminders all the time and a firm hand to guide them. Otherwise they will fall prey to their instincts and only see what works for them. Also, seeing Mom or Dad get angry and then leaving them alone to figure things out, shows them that they won the argument and reinforces the positive things about power struggles for them.
5 Kids Make Excuses For Bad Behavior
Oh yes. The “I learned it at school” bit. When they're babies, we may even make excuses for our little angel when we see her imitating another little girl slapping or yelling. We chastise our child, but say that she is only copying another bad habit. Hey, maybe we even blame those parents. They need to do their job right and keep their kid in control. Look at us! And so on. No, parents. It is our responsibility to take care of our kids and teach them how to handle conflict in a positive way.
Yes, the child is copying, but every child needs to be made responsible for their actions from as young an age as possible. They need to learn to use their own mind to figure things out and make good choices. And if parents are making excuses for the little ones from a young age on, the child will learn to do this with more sophistication as they get older.
4 Kids Play Dr. Jeckyll And Mr. Hyde
This is very common. Many children have two personalities. They are little cutie pies at daycare or school, but at home are little dictators. It’s the Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde phenomena. There is also the reverse to this. No matter, it's frustrating when kids are playing games with parents in this way. They are obviously playing their folks and seeing which buttons they can push and what the parents will do. In the arena where there is less consistency, kids will push boundaries more.
Usually, at schools of all kinds, kids have a very structured day so there is not much room for rebelling. But at home they can push the envelope. This is why parents need to have a system at home and a schedule of sorts so little and big kids know what to expect when they walk through the door. Now, by no means are parents also their kids teachers, but kids need to follow rules everywhere and parents need to be consistent in enforcing these.
3 Kids Tattletale On Parents
“But grandma lets me do it.” Sound familiar? This is another power or control thing that kids use. As much as possible, grandparents need to be on the same page as parents in all things. They need to ask parents before they make any decision with their grandchild. If not, this kind of power dynamic will happen, and the testing toddler or older child will jump on the chance to try out their wings and upset their parents. Hey, it’s exciting to be naughty as they get all kinds of attention.
If this is happening frequently, parents need to sit down with the grandparents and put new rules in place for the child. All adults have to stand up for each other or it will be fighting and anarchy with the child at the front waving their little sword. If the child learns that when peace reigns among the adults, there is more love for him/her, and they will stop misbehaving.
2 Kids Use Their Challenges To Make Mom Do Things For Them
Kids often have allergies, developmental challenges, or learning difficulties at all ages. However, this is never an excuse for parents to let them think they can’t do things for themselves. Or as some smart children figure out early, play the difficult or “hard” card to get away with not doing things for themselves, like dressing, tying their shoe laces, washing hands, cleaning up toys, or doing the more challenging homework. Kids need support to build confidence at all ages, and parents treating them as incapable will just feed into that mindset.
But the child is very smart. They cry or complain and a parent’s heart goes out to their little one struggling. The thing is, the parent has to ask themselves if the child is really struggling or exaggerating to get away with something? Pay attention parents. Children are way smarter than we give them credit for. Take a firm stance of showing them and then letting them practice on their own.
1 Kids Imitate Bad Behavior
This is another one of those famous ones that happen at all ages. Most of us will pay more attention to something negative rather than something positive. Heck, the news is based on this. So kids learn that they will get a reaction being rude, breaking something, imitating someone, etc. This is where parents need to use a firm hand and know when to ignore or when to address the behavior calmly, and when to have consequences in place so kids can learn that being negative gets them nowhere fast.
Instead parents can catch them being good and praise them on this. Parents can play and interact more with them when they are in a positive place, and with time, the need for control and attention won’t be needed. Kids will see they have their parents attention when they are calm and playing nicely either with their parents or alone.
So there are the 15 signs kids know how to manipulate parents. It’s important to remember that behind the scenes there needs to be order, structure, and a united front among all adults. That's the sure way to stop manipulation and control issues. And the whole family will be better off for it.