Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Little tyrants: Children who dominate parents

child psychology

Usually we associate childhood with a state of innocence and sincerity. However, it is not always the case. The fact that children absorb information in the world around them, as if they were sponges, also means they can learn very quickly to lie and manipulate others to get what they want.

In most cases they don’t do it consciously, at least not at first. But there's a point where they realize that this disruptive behavior allows them to get certain things, so it becomes more and more frequent, until it becomes the usual pattern of behavior.

Yet, the truth is that we talk very little of children who dominate their parents, although the issue has had a certain resonance in recent years, mainly because of an extremely permissive education in which children grow up without rules and clear boundaries.

Children can assume different attitudes to gain control on parents, it is important to detect them in time to put a stop before they become a problem.

1. Type challenger stalker

Do your son always opposes to you?

Does he often try to put a spoke in the wheel?

Are you sometime scared by his tantrums?

These children show a marked attitude of defiance towards his parents. Their main weapon is to oppose everything. If you tell them they can leave, they will answer that prefer to stay, and if you ask they to stay, they will go away.

Normally it comes to impulsive child, impatient and always with an attitude of defiance who pretend to live by their own rules, ignoring the rules of adults. In fact, these children refuse all parental attempts to end their disruptive behavior. When education is borne by only one parent, usually the mother, these children may behave very aggressively, until the situation becomes untenable.

These children can also take a self-sufficient attitude and, at first glance, they seem to have great confidence in themselves, but in reality it is usually a mask to hide fear and insecurity. Yet always they rejoice in doing the contrarian, in provoking a discussion, and they are not willing to surrender. For them, being right is more important than respect or get along with others.

Good and bad news

Having a defiant attitude is not necessarily a problematic feature. Many artists, inventors, designers and freethinkers have a similar attitude. These people are opposed to the conventions and as such are able to develop new perspectives and ways of thinking, using this function as a creative force.

Difficult children have a lot of energy that needs to be focused and channeled for giving it a positive outcome. In fact, if your child is too complacent and docile, if he always agrees with the parents, it means that has not developed ideas, opinions and points of view of his own, which is not positive.

But the fact remains that harnessing this energy is often difficult, especially if it is not dealt with it in time, since the overt habits are difficult to eliminate. So that, in some cases, this attitude can cause serious problems in the family.

What happens to the child who has an attitude of defiance?


The basic attitude of defiance hides usually a child who, for some reason, feels little consideration or even feeels to be underestimated. The child usually lives with the fear that the others will forget him, so he tries to attract the attention, even if it means resorting to disruptive behavior.

The interesting thing is that parents often do not realize how vulnerable are these children, because they are very good at hiding their insecurities. But ultimately, this defiance is a form of addiction since, in order to feel complete, these children need to be near a person to challenge. These children feel strong only when they can fight with someone.

What are gaining these difficult children with this attitude? Challenge is a protective barrier against the insecurity generated by interpersonal relationships, it provides them with temporary identity with which children feel more secure.

2. Type anxious stalker

Do your son is getting nervous?

Does he need you to comfort and constantly reassure him?

Do his speeches are full of anguish?

Anxious children are very difficult to handle as they grab their parents in search of support and they reject them. Of course, it is natural that children seek validation of their feelings in their parents, but the anxious child goes further and becomes extremely exhausting.

Anxious children are not able to calm down when they feel threatened or are afraid and run to their parents in search of protection. But once satisfied their needs, they reject the relationship. This cycle of search/refusal is repeated constantly, and this confuses the parents.

In fact, what happens is that these children do not want to depend from their parents, but are not able to break the umbilical cord. Normally they are not as aggressive as children with an attitude of defiance, but this doesn’t mean that relating to them is less intense and exhausting from the emotional point of view. In these cases, the children dominate their parents relegating them to the role of eternal social workers, but deny them the pleasure of feeling rewarded and loved completely.

Good and bad news

Unlike the challenger type children, who are extremely rebellious, anxious children usually are too afraid to expose themselves to dangerous situations. In fact, parents often have to encourage them to get out of their room because they pass time with their friends.

Anxious children struggle to grow and, if you do not stimulate their independence and autonomy, they remain children for all their lives, suffering from the Peter Pan syndrome. The problem is that they are not willing to take risks and prefer to stay in their comfort zone, so they also drag their parents in the same zone, limiting their life.

What happens to anxious children?


In some cases this anxiety can be a feature of their personality. In fact, it is likely that other members of their family suffered anxiety. In addition, we have to keep in mind that anxiety and fear are also “infectious”, which means it may be a reflection of one of the parents.

In other cases, this anxiety can be caused by a traumatic event that the child has lived, or it may be due to insecurities that at the time were not adequately addressed and overcome. It can also be the result of an overprotective education, which limited the child's opportunities in order to test strength and capacity, thus preventing him to develop the necessary confidence.

In any case, this does not mean that the child has to live with the anxiety and fear for life, these problems are solved by giving more responsibility and developing its independence and autonomy.

3. Type manipulative stalker


Does your child lie to you often?

Does he know how to take advantage of your fears and insecurities?

Does he manipulate you telling he’s going to hurt himself or threatens you saying he’s going to tell your secrets?

These children are great liars, they do not hesitate to distort the truth in order to evade their responsibilities and achieve their objectives. On the other hand, they often have the uncanny ability to decipher the emotions of the others and of course use it in their favor.

They can invent a false illness to avoid going to school and do not hesitate to use the love of their parents or their sense of guilt if they can get some benefit. They may resort to very elaborate stories that make appeal to emotions, and do not hesitate to resort to blackmail and threats when lies don’t work anymore.

Manipulative children exploit the doubts and anxieties of parents to get what they want. They may resort to subtle strategies such as inspiring pity, but they can also show their worst side and resort to threat if they see threatened their plans.

Good and bad news

Manipulative children have the special ability to detect the emotions of others, the problem is that they use it in their favor, regardless of the needs and desires of the people. However, if properly channeled, this capability would allow them to develop a high emotional intelligence, which is essential to be successful in life.

But parents need to be careful, because if they don’t stop immediately this behaviour, they will fall into the hands of their children, transferring them the control of the relationship. As a result, these children may become very self-centered and demanding, and will never be satisfied.

What happens to manipulative children?


Unlike anxiety, manipulation is a learned behavior. This means that maybe the child has learned to lie, cheat and manipúlate, from a person close to him. In other cases, he simply realized that manipulation works because parents always give in to his demands.

However, behind these behaviors there’s usually a fragile child who needs to reassert himself. The manipulative child is not mature, despite the complexity of the stories he creates and the ability to manage the emotions of the others, but, on the contrary, is immature, because he’s not able to bear the consequences of his actions or defend his opinions with reasonable arguments, so is forced to use emotional manipulation.

The solution? Clear rules and clear limits


A child who uses these strategies is not a happy child. Therefore, it is important that parents are aware of the fact that rules and limits do not mean a restriction of the freedom of the child, but are necessary because children know exactly what is expected of them.

Rules and restrictions can be understood as a sort of compass that children use to guide their behavior. When there are no standards or are very permissive, they increase the likelihood that children develop disruptive behaviors and create problems in the family. Discipline and love are not opposites, we can discipline with love.

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Little tyrants: Children who dominate parents
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Jennifer Delgado Suárez

Psicologist by profession and passion, dedicated to to string words together. Discover my Books

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