By, Surabhi Ashok
You have a strict curfew for your kids, and on one weekday, they want to go somewhere at a time past that designated curfew. They keep asking you for permission the whole day even after you said no the first time they brought it up. Eventually, you get tired of the constant questions and allow them to bend the rules “just this once”. This is a classic case of testing and manipulation.
Testing and manipulation are tactics utilized by children in order to get what they want from their parents/guardians. Children tend to resort to six different types of these tactics when they don’t want to follow their parents’ rules.
The first tactic is badgering. Badgering is exemplified in the scenario from before. Children will try to wear their parents down by repeating certain words and questions until their parents give in. Some won’t stop talking, with phrases like “please”, until they achieve their goal.
Another method is intimidation. Intimidation comes in the form of attacks, both verbal and physical. Younger children may throw temper tantrums if they’re denied something, kicking, banging their heads, and screaming. Older children may swear, yell at their parents, storm away, etc.
The third tactic of testing and manipulation is similar to intimidation: threats. Kids may say hurtful things out of anger at a situation. Threats like “I won’t do my homework unless…” or “I’ll run away” are made in the hope that the parent/guardian will lift their restrictions.
The fourth tactic is martyrdom. The goal of this tactic is to make the parents feel guilty. For example, a child may not come down to eat dinner or may put on a tearful look. Parents then forget the discipline they’re enforcing because they don’t want their child to feel that way.
The next method of testing and manipulation is butter-up. The child in question, in this case, will compliment the parent and try to make them feel good. In addition, the child may behave abnormally well in order to make it more likely for their parents to agree to what they want. Some adults even come to anticipate this strategy because it’s so commonly used: “You only act like this when you want something.”
Finally, there are physical tactics. With this particularly scarier case, the child may attack their parents physically, break items around the house, and more. The physical tactic is usually only seen after multiple occurrences of violent behavior.
Badgering, intimidation, threats, and martyrdom are done with the intent of creating an uncomfortable atmosphere. These four tactics of testing and manipulation change the dynamic of the household to give the power to the children rather than the parent.
If these methods continue to be used, not only will the children have a lower frustration tolerance but will sustain conflicting emotions within a family.
One way to handle testing and manipulation, especially in regards to younger children, is the 1-2-3 Counting Method. The first time your kid uses a testing and manipulation tactic that day, count it as the first warning. If the behavior continues and your kid gets a third warning, encourage a “rest period” to cool down in a room, chair, etc. When the rest period is over, don’t lecture your child and instead carry on with your day. Eventually, limits will be set in place and your child will understand to stop acting out with the first warning itself.
Source: https://www.123magic.com/parenting-tips/the-six-kinds-of-testing-and-manipulation-in-children.html | https://www.123magic.com/parenting-tips/managing-testing-and-manipulation.html