Is Your Child a Manipulator or Influencer? 

By Ron Huxley, LMFT

Children want feel significant and can be natural leaders when parents can direct this desire in a healthy manner. Unfortunately, many children turn into manipulators or bullies, trying to control everything and everyone in their path. This has a lot to do with developmental drives. A child is untrained force of emotional energy. They cry, scream, tantrum and hit at the slightest provocation. This is because their brain and nervous system are ruled by their emotions over their thoughts and it takes time and practice for them to learn how to manage themselves. Truthfully, many adults are still trying to learn this skill!

When your child is acting bossy, try to imagine how you can redirect this emotional energy into concrete, positive influence. How can you model natural leadership and guide them to be significant without the abuse? 

Reinforce areas of their character that demonstrate their capacity for patience, kindness, respect, love, generosity, and compassion for others. Empathy that is experienced and offered toward others is still the key builders of morality and good judgements in our brain development. Use it without restraint toward your children. 

Look for examples, in media and the world around us, where positive influence and helping others is happening. Discuss the costs for this and why others would lay down their time and energy for someone else. Ask your child how they have done this and who they could pick to be helpful to…Shift their attentional focus from finding significance in manipulation to finding identity in influencing others.

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