The Art of Manipulation

May 28, 2012

My oldest is five in less than a month. The last year has been a busy one for her. She has been learning so much. There is one skill she has been working on more than any other.

No not reading or writing or hula hooping. She has been learning the subtle art of manipulation.

It isn’t such a well recognised skill like the ability to add or subtract, you won’t ever win a prize in it or get chosen as star of the week because you’re the best in the class. But it’s a pretty important life skill. One many of us use without realising it.

Like any new skill it takes a lot of practice. My daughter has long chosen a sparring partner to test her arm. Me!

Her aim: to get me to do what she wants. Most of the time this is to get her a drink when I’ve just sat down or she’s had three already,or to use the computer or I, or to stay up late when it’s bedtime.

Of course it starts with crying as a baby. This soon turns to a whine and a whinge. Unfortunately this doesn’t work very well on me, but it took a good couple of years for M to realise that I would never do something unless she asked nicely in a “big girl voice”. She quickly latched on to the fact that if she asked properly I would usually do whatever it was she wanted (within reason). We have pretty much got rid of the whining, unless she is particularly tired or poorly. Bliss!

The only problem for her was as she got a bit older she began to reach another block. She would ask in a big girl voice but even so there were some things I wouldn’t give in to. So she has been trying out a variety of new tactics. Here are some of the things she’s tried:

  • If you don’t get me juice I’ll not be your friend.
  • If you don’t get me juice I’ll hate you,
  • If you don’t get me juice I’ll kick you in the face.

Well sadly for her I don’t give in to threats of violence. Gradually she is getting closer to an effective manipulation strategy.

  • If you get me juice I’ll give you a kiss.
  • If you get me juice I’ll go to bed straight away.
  • If you get me juice I’ll love you best.
  • Mummy, I love you…. can I have some juice?
  • Mummy, you’re pretty….can I have some juice?
Finally something which works.

So how do you get what you want?

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