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Attitude Makeover: Manipulative

Emergency Attitude
From this moment on, change your behavior, call the manipulation for what it is, and absolutely refuse to give in, regardless of what your kid is trying to obtain or accomplish. You're right, it won't be easy; in fact, it could be exhausting. But remember one thing: manipulators must rely on someone else for their ploys to win. It takes two for a manipulation to occur. For his scheme to succeed, another person must believe his fib or his make-believe helplessness, write his excuse, accept the blame, buy into the guilt, or just plain wear down and acquiesce. Take a solid vow that you will not be used as a pawn in your child's manipulative games. Then pass that message onto anyone and everyone he's been taking advantage of so you're all on board together and his attitude stops.

Bad Attitude Alert
Gear up for this makeover by contemplating why your kid is manipulative, and how it plays out in your home.

Diagnosis
Answer these questions to help you consider why your child is using this manipulative attitude and what he is gaining from it.

Why. There are many reasons that kids may be manipulative, dependent, and blaming others, but the central issue usually revolves around trying to avoid something or someone. What could your child be trying to avoid: work, humiliation, fear or pain, possible failure, jeopardizing a relationship, punishment, losing your approval or love, coping with an insecurity or anxiety, taking responsibility? What is your best guess as to why your kid is manipulative?

What. Are there particular issues or things about which he usually is more prone to using manipulative ways: doing his chores or homework; taking a bath, eating dinner, or brushing his teeth; going to bed alone or on time; practicing violin or a sport; going to school, day care, or the babysitter's; or going to the dentist or doctor?

Who. Manipulative kids are great at figuring out who will cave in to their devices. So who are the individuals most likely to fall under your kid's manipulative ways? The babysitter? Day care worker? Teacher? A relative: cousin, aunt or uncle, grandparent? Coach? A friend, classmate, or peer? A sibling? You? Your spouse? And who are those he doesn't use his manipulative antics around, and why not? A big clue is how those individuals respond to your kid's ploys.

When. Is there a particular time of day, week, or month he is more manipulative? Is there a reason? For instance, does it show up every Saturday morning at ten o'clock when, coincidentally, it's the time that family chores are to be done? Or does it show up almost like clockwork every night around eight o'clock when she gets clingy and demanding (and it's also bedtime)? You might even want to track his manipulative ploys on a calendar; usually there is a pattern. Maybe report cards are due, the piano recital is coming up, or it's her turn to stay at Dad's. Look for a pattern.

Where. Are there certain places he is more likely to be manipulative (at school or day care, home, the store, piano lessons, on the soccer field)? Why? Does she tend to win at certain places? Does she pull out the charm at the store, so you will buy her the toy? Does he throw a fit at hockey practice because he wants you to take him home? Does she fake a stomachache during the piano lesson because she hates it? There is a reason, so try to discern it. What might your kid be trying to avoid?

Review your answers carefully. It also helps to compare notes with others who know your child well. Are you seeing any predictable patterns? Do you have any better awareness of this attitude and where your child's manipulative attitude is coming from? Is there anything you can do to remedy it? Write down any thoughts.

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From Don't Give Me That Attitude by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright © 2004 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Buy the book at www.amazon.com.


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