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Attitude Makeover: Manipulative

The "Don't Give Me That Attitude" Makeover
Take the following steps to squelch your child's manipulative attitude.

Step 1. Recognize Your Kid's Manipulative Tactics
Here are a few of the most common manipulation tactics kids use to get their way. Check ones that apply to your child:

Lies. "I left it on the bus." "I did it already." "My friend borrowed it."

Plays one adult off the other. "Dad would let me." "But Mom said it was okay."

Makes excuses. "The teacher didn't tell me." "I thought it was Sally's job."

Shifts blame. "How am I supposed to get a good grade – my teacher is bad." "Go yell at the coach, not me. It's not my fault." "Don't blame me. You should have told me you were going to ground me."

Uses affection or charm. "I love you so much, Mom. I really will try harder." "Sorry Dad, I forgot. How about a hug?"

Pretends to be helpless. "I just can't do it, Dad. Pleeeeease can you help me?"

Uses guilt. "If you were around more to help, I'd be getting better grades." "You're the worst parent in the whole world." "All the other parents let their kids do it."

Fakes a physical ailment. "I have a stomachache . . . headache." "I'm so tired . . . sick."

Uses self-pity. "I can't do it!" "It's too hard!" "Everyone will laugh at me."

Employs blackmail. "If you let me stay out late tonight, I'll do it." "What'll I get?"

Gives the silent treatment. Is moody, mopes, pouts, doesn't smile, withdraws.

Exploits emotions. Uses tears, hysterical crying; trembles, clings, pleads.

Verbally threatens. "If you don't, I'll . . . [tell Dad, run away, not love you anymore, never do my work] as long as I live."

Verbal tirades. Wears you down with arguments and verbal battles.

Uses aggressive behaviors. Has tantrums, bites, hits, rants, punches, or has other outbursts.

Knows your hot buttons. Waits until you're exhausted to ask. Knows when you're so busy you don't have time to talk things through.


Once you recognize the most common tactics your kid uses to get his way, you will be able to spot it each time and stop it in its tracks. Be sure to pass on your findings to those other important caregivers in your kid's life so you are all on board in curbing his manipulative ways.

Step 2. Get To The Real Purpose Of The Attitude
There are two parts to the next makeover step. First, you must discover what's really behind your kid's manipulative attitude and why she needs to be deceptive. The best way to figure this out is by reviewing which boxes you checked in Step 1. Next, ask yourself if there is any pattern. There are many reasons kids are manipulative, but the usual cause is to escape from something unpleasant. Another possibility is that the child is just plain selfish and manipulates others to get what she wants. Check possibilities that apply to your kid:

Avoiding humiliation. She is saving face from possible failure or embarrassment.

Fear of jeopardizing a relationship. She is concerned about her image with peers.

Avoiding punishment. She is escaping possible punishment if her actions are discovered.

Not wanting to lose approval. She is afraid of losing the approval or love of someone she cares about.

Authentic lack of skills and experience. You've been doing so much for this little sucker that now she hasn't the ability to do it on her own.

Insecurity, fear, or anxiety. The situation causes her anxiety, so she is avoiding it.

Avoiding responsibility. She is avoiding taking responsibility or being accountable for her actions.

Not wanting to work. She is avoiding work, chores, or practice that she doesn't want to do.

Being selfish. This is the way to get what he wants or have things go his way.


Next: Steps 3 & 4 >>

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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