Children are very good at working out parents’ triggers. They are very good because they are wired to learn what works and what doesn’t in getting what they want. And once they have learned that it then becomes habit forming until such time it is no longer working. A new tactic is then learned to achieve what they desire, or they may continue using a combination of tactics.


As a parent we start reacting in response to their behavior and form triggers to their whining, crying, upset and anger etc. If we can stop and remember that firstly, triggers are formed because it is our inability to process our emotions to their outbursts and behavior. So, it is helpful for us as parents to learn to identify what triggers us, and to sit down and be familiar with the emotions we feel when we are triggered. It is also important to realise that most triggers are derived from our childhood.

Secondly, our reactions will lessen, and parenting can be undertaken with greater awareness and freedom when we learn to recognise our triggers. Not only that, when we recognise we are being manipulated it is more likely we will react or respond differently, and life won’t be so tough.


(let me count the ways….)

Crying or Complaining about something

What parent should do: Examine whether child is struggling or just exaggerating. If exaggerating, then Stand Firm

Learned Negative Behaviour

By learned negative behaviour I am referring to the fact that kids learn that they will get a reaction when certain actions are initiated. An example might be Ryan is rude in front of a visitor (doesn’t that always push our buttons…)

What parent should do: Learn to ignore or address the behaviour calmly, and when to enforce consequences. Additionally, if parents can interact and play more when kids are in a positive place, children will learn that positive attention also gets attention.

In the middle of the Store meltdown

What parent should do: Toughen up. No means no.

Playing one parent off against the other

What parent should do: Parents need to be ahead of the game here, plan in advance and be on the same page so your child doesn’t get the biscuit off one that the other said they couldn’t have.

They Refuse to eat/or only want the junk food

What parents should do: This is not an easy one to call on as different families will have different principles. I would suggest that the child be encouraged to try a little bit of everything or try something once. The other option is to have a week snack set up in the fridge, e.g. carrot sticks, slice of apple… something snacky as a “permanent option”. Don’t be afraid to let them go hungry.

They hold their breath

What parents should do: I know this is scary, but realise that were the worse to happen and they “go out of it” the body’s natural instinct is to start breathing. It is important that your child doesn’t see you reacting to their breath holding.

They want to stay up late

What parents should do: Parents we need to stand firm. Options/choices can be offered to ease them into taking the correct action.

But dad lets me do it

What parents should do: This is such a hard one, especially when separate households are involved.

This is a separate Blog altogether…. Just try to aim to agree to the bigger picture with your ex. Don’t make your kids the messenger. That’s not fair on them, and is not conducive to a positive relationship with your ex. Because you are feeling hurt and angry doesn’t mean it should affect your behaviour. Learn to listen and acknowledge the other person’s point of view. It doesn’t mean that you agree. The golden rule to remember is in your household you are the Boss, and you make the decisions.

Now that you have some of the common manipulative behaviours go forth into the world and be prepared how you will handle the situation when it arises. Being forewarned and forearmed makes your parenting easier.

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