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Overuse of term "manipulation"

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  • Overuse of term "manipulation"

    My MIL just told me my son was manipulating when he decides he does not want to spend the night. That is NOT manipulation. Lets go over the definition.

    -The act or practice of manipulating.
    -The state of being manipulated.
    or
    -exerting shrewd or devious influence especially for one's own advantage; "his manipulation of his friends was scandalous"

    I would never describe my 3 yr old as being "shrewd or devious" and I don't like others portraying him in that manner. He IS intelligent and realizes what things mean but he is not pretending to be a certain way in order to trick us into getting a false response!
    AHHHHH. I hate that word! When did it start being used for describing children? How do you feel about it?

  • #2
    We hear that alot, since our son is "spoiled" another fav term.

    In the sense many use it, he is "spoiled". We attend to his needs, try to include him in everything and don't force foods he doesn't like, or make him do other things he doesn't like just for the sake of it. ( we do make him sleep but we have to agree he needs that )

    I think sometimes kids try to get their way and can be a bit naughty in their approach, but their are also young, and don't always understand why they can't get their way. We don't have tantrums when we don't get our cookie 10 mins before dinner, but then again no one stops us from having a cookie when we want one, sometimes adults don't understand that although we may tease, being a toddler CAN be hard

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    • #3
      i hate the word manipulation too!

      its even worse that the people who are most likely to call a child manipulative are the very people whose interactions with children are not genuine and could even be called manpulation itself.
      what hippocracy...

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      • #4
        the base word "mani" means "hands". i'm an educator and associate the term "manipulative" w/something to use with your hands to better understand a concrete idea. so we give kids "manipulatives" like counting beads to learn how to add.

        i correlate this idea to parenting. children are manipulative in the sense that they are using something (like a cry, an explanation, physical cues) to gain something concrete (like food, love, toys, attention).

        if someone tells me my child (or children in general) is being manipulative, i say "oh, isn't it great! he's so smart! he's able to communicate his needs to me!"

        i say children SHOULD be manipulative! we label those who aren't w/ "Failure To Thrive"!!!

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        • #5
          How annoying!!! He's smart and is capable of making decisions. Since when is that manipulating??? At his age, there are so few things they can make their own decisions about and it's great he's confident enough to do it. I say to that "WHATEVER!"

          Someone told me Liam was manipulating me when he was 15 mo. That bothered me. A human cannot be manipulating at that age and heaven forbid he expresses his needs and I meet them!

          I do think children can be manipulating at times, maybe around 3 or later. But I don't think there is really anything wrong with it. It just depends on how you view it. I see my son manipulating situations and words when he's a bit older. According to my MIL, my DH was a total pro at it. She always admired it, even though it annoyed her, because how he did it was very, very intelligent and many times, he ended up being right.
          Last edited by apelilae; 07-03-2008, 09:28 PM.

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          • #6
            Great post!

            I had a friend, who has no children, tell me that my DD (who at the time was 6 months old) not to hold my child while she was crying because she was manipulating me into soothing her! She then went on to say that I caused the child to cry from holding her so much! I simply said "you and I have different parenting styles and took my child from her.
            I was going to say I don't know what it is about our society that makes adults want to neglect our children but I think I might know....an overpowering need to be in control and to be right.Thus HUGE Ego's. A child being parented by a huge ego = disharmony.

            Your DS is learning how to communicate, how to express his desires and fulfill his needs and share his feelings. How wonderful! He has a choice! How wonderful it is that he is allowed to learn at this age that he has a choice! And to know what he is feeling and to trust himself! So many of us have been taught that we have no rights, no right to a choice, no right to our feelings, no right to ask to have our needs met, no right to listen to that small still voice inside guiding us to our best path....and so many of us are hurting and expressing that hurt in painful ways towards others.
            I love that your son is learning this now. and it hurts me also to hear of this because my daughter does not get a choice when she has to go spend the night with her father because of laws in this country made by people who were raised by people who didn't meet their needs because their parents didn't learn how to have their needs met when they were toddlers. and so on and so on.....
            Thank God for parents like you who are creating children like yours to go out into this world who hopefully will continue this cycle of love you have taught him!

            I stand behind you SISTER in your standing up for your son!

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            • #7
              Sounds like MIL is the one being manipulative!!

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              • #8
                As I'm learning more about NVC, I think saying someone is "manipulating" is putting a judgment on their actions. Like saying you feel manipulated, betrayed, etc. These aren't really feelings but reactions to the other person that the one who feels "manipulated" chooses.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by apelilae View Post
                  I do think children can be manipulating at times, maybe around 3 or later. But I don't think there is really anything wrong with it. It just depends on how you view it.
                  totally how you view it. manipulating is one of those loaded words though. i think after 3 or so theyre still just trying to get thier needs met the only ways they know how. so theyre still no more manipulating than a baby who fusses when you put her down because she has a high need of being held.

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                  • #10
                    Someone just told me recently that my 6 month old knows how to "work me" in response to my saying I better leave soon otherwise he'll meltdown in the car. Despite this person saying many annoying things, I was still caught off guard and didn't say anything one way or the other about it. I was venting to a friend about it recently and for this particular person she suggested I make responses that just blow past the underlying crap, similar to what PaxMamma said. "yes, isn't he so smart to know exactly how to communicate his needs with me?" Honestly for this situation I don't think it is going to truly work, but at least the passive aggressive will have to become truly aggressive and it will not have stemmed from me and then maybe it can be dealt with openly.

                    All that to say, ugh, manipulation, blah, whatever...now to go hug my oh so devious baby.

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                    • #11
                      sometimes i would just say to people:

                      'yes i guess i should just ignore her and make us both miserable just to prove some kind of point.'

                      when im feeling nice i end it as a question leaving them to see the absurdity.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PaxMamma View Post
                        the base word "mani" means "hands". i'm an educator and associate the term "manipulative" w/something to use with your hands to better understand a concrete idea. so we give kids "manipulatives" like counting beads to learn how to add.

                        i correlate this idea to parenting. children are manipulative in the sense that they are using something (like a cry, an explanation, physical cues) to gain something concrete (like food, love, toys, attention).

                        if someone tells me my child (or children in general) is being manipulative, i say "oh, isn't it great! he's so smart! he's able to communicate his needs to me!"

                        i say children SHOULD be manipulative! we label those who aren't w/ "Failure To Thrive"!!!

                        I Love This... I like to look at it as a positive human behavior and when people use it in the negative, I say things like, well I think that when people become concerned that others may have negative behavior, it is usually because they possess that behavior themselves. It usually gets them to stop saying negative things about my child.
                        Sometimes I say things like, well I have been manipulated by the best, so why not teach him to be the best. That is when I am in cranky mood.

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                        • #13
                          this came to my inbox today and is right on topic!

                          THE DAILY GROOVE ~ by Scott Noelle
                          www.enjoyparenting.com/dailygroove

                          :: The Joy of Manipulation ::

                          The word *manipulate* means "to handle skillfully."
                          Since the main function of childhood is learning how
                          to handle life skillfully, a "manipulative" child is
                          only doing what comes naturally.

                          A good relationship is one in which both parties can
                          manipulate each other in ways they both enjoy. They
                          dance with one mind, like Fred Astaire and Ginger
                          Rogers. It's called *attunement*.

                          When you and your child are well-attuned, the
                          manipulation can be so subtle that all you notice is
                          the pleasure of your connection. But when you're
                          distracted or stressed, your child will escalate to
                          unsubtle, unpleasant cues like crying or whining --
                          whatever it takes to get your attention.

                          Conventional (adversarial) parenting advice says you
                          mustn't "give in" to such manipulation. The parent
                          "wins" when the child gives up hope.

                          When you understand that unpleasant manipulation is a
                          symptom of failed attunement, the path becomes clear:

                          * Align with your Self.
                          * Attune with your child.
                          * Focus on the pleasure of connecting.
                          * Everyone wins.

                          http://dailygroove.net/manipulation

                          Feel free to forward this message to your friends!
                          (Please include this paragraph and everything above.)
                          Copyright (c) 2008 by Scott Noelle

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for posting that PaxMamma, I just subscribed. I could use a little inspiration in my inbox everyday.

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