Feel Like Your Kids Are Running the Show?
One of the unfortunate parts of being a parent is that
you cannot give your children everything they want. In
addition, you must also ask the kids to do things they
don’t want to do (homework, go to bed) and to stop
doing some things they do want to do (teasing, whining).
If you are really doing your parenting job, therefore,
along with being warm, caring and supportive, you must
also frustrate your kids on a regular basis.
When you are frustrating your little ones, the children
have two choices. First, they can cooperate and tolerate
the frustration. Second, however, youngsters can
engage in what we call testing and manipulation. Testing
and manipulation are the efforts of frustrated children
to get what they want or avoid discipline by getting their
parents emotionally confused.
When trying to “press your buttons” like this, a child has a “choice” of six basic tactics.
All parents and teachers recognize the strategies we are about to describe!
The Six Basic Testing Tactics
1. Badgering: “Please, please, please, please!” or “Why, why, why?” “Just this once!
Just this once!” “Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!” There are some children who could
have been machine guns during the last war.
2. Temper: An aggressive attack or emotional outburst. Younger children, who aren’t so
good with words, throw themselves on the floor, bang their heads, holler and kick
around ferociously. Older kids, whose language skills are more developed, come up
with arguments that accuse you of being unjust, illogical or simply a bad parent in
3. Threat: “I’m going to run away from home!”, “I’ll never speak to you again!” and “I’m
not eating dinner and I won’t do my homework!!”
4. Martyrdom: May be kids’ all‐time favorite! Your
daughter indicates that her life has become an
incredible burden since you are totally unfair. “No
one around here loves me anymore,” “I never get
anything” or “You like her more than me!” are
examples. Crying, pouting and looking sad or teary
can also be effective manipulative devices.
5. Butter Up: Here’s a switch: Butter up takes an
approach that’s different from the other testing
tactics. Instead of making you feel uncomfortable,
the child tries to make you feel good. “I think I’ll go
clean my room. It’s been looking kind of messy for
the last three weeks. And after that maybe I’ll take
a look at the garage.” Ever heard a parent say,
“The only time my son’s nice is when he wants
6. Physical Tactics: From a parent’s perspective, this last form of testing is perhaps the
worst. Here the frustrated child may physically attack an adult, break something or run
away. Physical methods, of course, are more common in smaller kids.
What’s Going on Here?
Most kids would never be able to describe the underlying mechanics of testing. But we can
tell you exactly what’s going on. Here’s how it works: The child’s testing is saying to the
parent something like this: “You’re making me uncomfortable by not giving me what I
want. But now I’m also making you uncomfortable with my badgering, tantrums, ominous
statements or feeling sorry for myself. Now that we’re both uncomfortable, I’ll make you a
deal: You call off your dogs and I’ll call off mine.”
If you do give in and give the child what he wants, you are guaranteed that any testing will
stop immediately—in a split second no more hassles. Some people say, “Thank heaven—
there’s a way of getting rid of testing and manipulation!” There certainly is, but there’s a
catch. The catch is who’s running your house? It isn’t you; it’s the kids. All they have to do
in a conflict is get out their big guns and you are chopped liver.
For many parents being able to enjoy their kids again means being able to manage kids’
manipulative behavior quickly and fairly. How do you do that? Recognize manipulation for
what it is, never give children what they want when they are testing, and know when it’s
time to stop talking!
I just read this newsletter from 123 Magic and it hit home for sure. The only way I can stop my kids from manipulating is when I use their counting and timeout strategy. Luckily Tegegne's doctor recommended it to me several years ago. I checked out the dvd from the library and have used it ever sense. 123 Magic worked for me! I know several of my friends agree that establishing a timeout routine early on helps immensely with disciplining young children.
I'm totally going to make a "time-out pad". Genius.
Time out for us is the least exhausting way for me to let my kids know that I rule the roost round here!