The Daily Groove

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.
One More Thought...

The shift from unpleasant to pleasing manipulation requires you to let go of any attachment you have to being in control and focus on mutual empowerment. From power-over to power-with. That's the essence of partnership!

Comments (closed)

Re: The Joy of "Manipulation"

I totally get this - and when I am one on one with one of my children, I find it usually straightforward to reconnect.

My challenge is around how to do this with both - when they are asking for re-connection a the same time. I feel like I can only give one child what they need at best. At worst, I start to go into over drive because I'm not sure who to connect with first and for how long and what about the other one, etc. etc. The results there are never my proudest moments.

I'm new to being the parent of 2 - so still unclear how to navigate much less *manipulate*/handle skillfully!