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How Do I Handle Manipulation and Control?

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How Do I Handle Manipulation and Control? Primary tools for children who didn't have a voice are manipulation and control. Now all children explore manipulation even in the most loving homes. Again, this is normal developmental exploration. For the child from the hard place, manipulation may have become the way they believe they survived. Control may be what they believe stood between them and death. Now when we look at a child with these issues, obviously those issues are not okay, but again I don't want to overreact. I don't want to label my child a controller or a manipulator. I want to stand back from the behavior and realize it has a function. So if a child is saying something to me: for example, they want something but they're using a manipulative way to get there, I will say, "Stop sweetie." Now I'm going to be matching. I'm going to be looking into their eyes and I'm going to say, "Stop. I want to meet your need, but I need honest words, not this little roundabout. Okay so give me honest words. Let me see what we can do. Let's work it out together." And very often I will find a child say, "What I really want X." Now if it's in my power at that moment, I'm going to say, "yes" because I want my child to know they don't have to use tricks to be heard by me. Now I can't always say, "yes". Obviously I shouldn't always say, "yes", but I can say it a lot more often than I do. So we know from child development that there is a continuum of two poles that predict the best development long-term. Predictability and control. Some of our children have come from very unpredictable environments. Some of them have come from very controlling environments. But appropriate levels of predictability and control will help our children let go of the need to control the world. We have mothers who come to us saying, "My child tell me what shoes to wear in the morning." So I say to that child, "You know what? It's not okay for you to tell mommy what to wear, but let's go to your room and choose what you'll wear tomorrow." So I'm going to take away control of the world by giving my child appropriate control. Every one of our children must have appropriate control in their environment and they much be able to predict what's going to happen. I can take way these tools: manipulation and control, by giving my child appropriate levels of predictability and control in their environment. I can become their partner. Again it's very important to come alongside of the child. It's not like, "Ah ha! Gotcha being bad", but rather, "Sweetie, let's work on this together. That's not okay. I'm listening to you. Tell me what you need." So one of the primary mistakes that parents make about this is thinking my child is so controlling, I'm going to take away control of everything. They're going to learn to make good choices by making small choices. I remember one darling little girl we worked with who had to be in control of everything and she was just a tiny little bitty snippet of a thing. She was just 5 years old, but her mother was there and I was there with her in the home and her mother said, "Sweetie, we're going to have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. Come on to the table" and she said, "No no. I have a better idea; let's have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch." The little thing just had to feel like she was in control and so we got down at her height and we looked her in the eye and said, "No, mama already decided on the sandwich, but you could decide between these 3 fruits for our dessert. What do you choose?" I'm going to let a child have some control. I'm sharing power. They're going to practice making choices in a controlled environment so that they don't have to take over the world. I have had a child come to our camp who was hungry - many, many times. He would come into the camp door every morning, asking exactly what we would have to eat all day long. And I went through what we would have for the morning snack and what we would have for the noon snack and what we would have all day long. And I did that with him for a number of days, more than a week. Every day I went through this with him and one morning he came in and I said, "Sweetheart, today would you go with me and look in the kitchen and let me show you that we have so very much food? And I promise you that you're never going to be hungry here. But just for today, would you trust Miss Karen? I'm going to meet every hunger need you have and you just get to be a little boy today." So for that little period of time, that little boy could practice trusting me just that long, just a few hours, that there was plenty to eat. Our children learn to make good choices as they trust that they have a voice and as they trust, that we see what they need. And in that environment, they will give up control and manipulation in terms of relationship. Manipulation and control are issues that really challenge a lot of parents. I know they challenge me and my wife. When my kids are exhibiting manipulative and controlling behaviors, I often take that as a personal offense. I take it as a challenge to my authority. I take it as a challenge to my role as dad. While manipulation and control are not okay when they're exhibited by our kids, I can't allow all of the emotions and the reactions that I feel to get in the way of looking deeper, below the surface of that manipulation and control, to see what's really going on. What is it that my kids are trying to tell me? What is it that they really need? The truth is that manipulation and control by our kids is often really just their way of inappropriately expressing a need. And if I can get past the personal affront and the personal offense that manipulation and control represents for me, and get to the heart of that need, help them understand that I'm here to meet that need, to help them meet that need, and more importantly to help them appropriately express that need. Then oftentimes what we can do is we can deal with the manipulation and control not by coming down heavy and hard on it, but rather by becoming more connected so that we can help our kids understand that we're their advocate. We're their coach. And we can help them both identify, articulate, and meet the deep needs they have.

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Duration: 7 minutes and 19 seconds
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Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
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Views: 1
Posted by: jenfridley on Feb 26, 2018

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