Don't Be Your Child's Puppet

By Bob Lancer

Do you have a child who presses your buttons and pulls your strings, a child who makes demands for the pleasure of feeling in control over you, dominating your every move? Do you habitually give-in, give help, give attention without rhyme or reason? The more you cater to your child's manipulation tactics, the more that child depends on others to do too much for him, and the more fatigued, frustrated and out of control you feel.

To remedy this situation, you simply have to practice paying closer attention to what you are doing, saying, thinking and feeling in reaction to your child's actions. Your unconscious, automatic reaction habits set you up for puppet-like conduct, under the control of your puppet-master child. You have to first notice what you are doing to change what you are doing.

From self-awareness you can move into self-control. Do this by deliberately pausing before you respond to your child. You can make this into a habit by practicing it. When your child makes a demand or request, or when he behaves in a manner that triggers your reaction, intentionally pause before saying or doing anything in response. Just pause to observe for a moment or two.

During that pause you can determine if your child is expressing a real need or demonstrating a false manipulation tactic. A real need really does warrant your cooperation. A false manipulation tactic is something children engage in for the pleasure of feeling in control. When you cooperate with a false manipulation tactic, you end up feeling drained and perhaps even humiliated as you act as your child's lackey. There is only so much of this you can take before you end up losing your patience and perhaps even blow up in a temperamental outburst that you later regret.

When you meet a child's legitimate need you support the child's development of healthy, happy, responsible self-reliance. When you fall for a manipulation tactic, you actually weaken the child's character and contribute to her development of overly dependent personality traits. You also teach your child that it is okay to take advantage of others and to treat them with disregard for their best interests. The more successful a child is at manipulating you, the more respect she loses for you, and the more respect you lose for yourself.

When you catch your child in the act of manipulation, don't resent him for it. Relate to it as normal, natural testing. Children do not instinctively know their appropriate, responsible boundaries in relationships. We need to teach them these first and foremost by demonstration. As you demonstrate respect for yourself and for your child, your child automatically learns to relate respectfully with others and with himself.

When you fall for a manipulation tactic you demonstrate your lack of self-respect and your own weakness in the area of relationships. You have responsibility for recognizing when you are giving or doing too much. The better you are at establishing healthy, appropriate boundaries relative to what you will and will not do for your child, the sooner your child learns to adapt to and demonstrate respect for those boundaries.

Let's say that your four-year-old complains that he is thirsty. Your old, automatic habit might be to jump up and f etch him something to drink. If you practice your new mode of placing a conscious pause before responding, you may notice a manipulation tactic at work. You can then respond by kindly directing your child to meet his own need which he is perfectly capable of doing.

Being your child's puppet involves two things: your child can press your buttons and she can pull your strings. Whenever your child causes you to automatically react to his behavior, you are acting like your child's puppet and encouraging your child to continue treating you as his puppet.
Your child presses your buttons whenever he causes you to react with anger, frustration, impatience, stress, anxiety. He presses your buttons when he can get you to yell, nag, argue, engage in a power-struggle with him. He pulls your strings when he gets you to do things for him that he is better off doing for himself or better off doing without.

As you practice pausing for a moment of conscious observation before reacting to your child's behavior, you will find your better parental judgment coming to your aid (and to your child's aid as well). You will be more able to see, sense, feel, know, intuit the appropriate response, including recognizing when no response at all is called for. When your siblings squabble, when your little one whines, when your teen lets you down, when your children dawdle on a school-day morning... whatever the challenge, pausing before you react can save you from doing too much for no good reason.

Bob Lancer leads individuals, businesses, families, and associations to fulfill their greatest dreams. He does this through a wide variety of venues, including his WSB radio show, Bob Lancer's Parenting Solutions, a show that focuses as much on the raising of ourselves and of our society as on the raising of children. The show has been on the air since 1995 and broadcasts to 35 states over the radio, and worldwide over the internet.

He is the author of numerous books and he has created dozens of motivational recordings on his themes.

Bob Lancer transforms audiences through his dynamic keynotes and seminars on parenting, marriage, and personal and professional development at live events, including conferences around the nation and overseas. He has been leading his audiences to greater personal and professional success as a public speaker, seminar leader, consultant and author for over 20 years and his work has been featured on CNN and other network television stations, in national magazines and in major newspapers.

Article Source:

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home