For some time, your child has been throwing tantrums every time he doesn’t get what he wants and he sometimes declares his undying love for you when you know he’s trying to pull a fast one on you. But why has he developed this manipulative behavior and what can you do about it?
How does a child become manipulative?
To understand how a child learns to manipulate his parents, we must first explore the reasons that lead him to choose to manipulate us. We spoke with Stephanie Deslauriers, a psychoeducator, who explains that a child who manipulates his parents usually does it to get something or to divert our attention in order to avoid consequences. To get what he wants, the child may lie, negotiate, and flatter, all in order to influence his parents and to avoid having to face reality. Over time, if he is successful in manipulating you, he will use these tactics all the time to gain power over you.
How to recognize a child manipulator?
Should we start worrying as soon as our kids start to throw a tantrum? Of course not, isolated events caused by fatigue or miscommunications can happen without necessarily indicating that your child is developing manipulative behavior. According to Stephanie, it’s more when your child is exhibiting that type of behavior for a long period that you should start worrying: « if every time the parent makes a request the child ends up arguing and trying to negotiate and the parent starts walking on eggshells or altering the normal functioning of the daily routine to avoid upsetting him, the child will come to understand that he can manage his parents. If he is in a good mood, things will go well, but when he is in a bad mood, the whole house will suffer. »
What are the risks of letting a child manipulate you?
In addition to the challenges his behavior causes on your daily life, letting your child manipulate you can make it so that he never learns to accept responsibility for his actions and that he ends up feeling like a victim for the rest of his life. Stephanie warns us that « a child who is young and who can control everyone around him quickly becomes very anxious and the more his anxiety rises, the more he tries to control and learns how to manipulate situations around him. The universal role of a child should not be to control his family but to be supported and cared while we help him develop his independence in a supervised and reassuring environment. »
What can you do?
If you’ve come to the realization that your child is manipulating you, the first thing to do is to try to identify the reasons that push him to do it and understand what it brings him, since he has chosen to manipulate because he thinks it’s more advantageous than the alternative. Stephanie loves to use the self-esteem example: « if we take a child who always wants to be first, or the best, you have to ask yourself if these expectations come from you, if your actions unconsciously make him think that he has to be the best to please you. It’s important to be honest with ourselves. »