“My kids are driving me crazy! They are so manipulative I can’t stand it!”

Does this sound familiar? Or how about these:

“My middle schooler blackmails me emotionally – he cries that I don’t care about him and that I love his brother more when I ask him to stop playing video games. He’s more difficult than his brother, and we always fight. But, his words make me feel so guilty that I let him continue to play.”

“My teenager negotiates with me relentlessly to get her way. ‘If you let me go to the party tonight,’ she’ll say, ‘then I promise I’ll get all my work done tomorrow.’ I figure, why not? So I let her go. But then, ‘Oops!’ She conveniently forgets all her promises.”

If your kids are like most, they are masterful at finding creative ways to wear you down to get their way. You might think, “My child is just too smart for his own good!”

It’s essential to understand first that it’s natural for kids to want what they want and try to get it at all costs. It’s also natural for us as parents to get frustrated and tired and to give in to these behaviors sometimes—perhaps more often than we’d like to admit. Parents have busy lives and many stressors, and we can only take so much.

Understand that for your child, finding ingenious ways to get what she wants or to avoid what she doesn’t want to do is a way for her to exercise influence in a world run by adults. It doesn’t mean you have to give in, but it’s helpful to realize that it’s developmentally appropriate.

Your child doesn’t have adult power yet. Most kids can’t make major decisions like choosing their neighborhood or school, for example. Having initiative, drive, and passion are positives, even though it doesn’t always feel that way as a parent. But remember that these traits can be a force for good if you can help your child use them properly and balance them with self-restraint and respect for boundaries.

Look at it this way: your kid’s job is to make demands, communicate desires, and try to get their needs met as best they can. Your job is not to get stirred up and give in to those demands. Instead, try to help your child balance the energy of his endless wants with self-control and integrity.

The Cycle of Manipulation, Control, and Defiance

Parents often get frustrated by their kids’ manipulative attempts to get their way. It’s not easy to remain calm and level-headed when you feel that your child is trying to push you around or take advantage of you. You might feel accosted and lose your temper. Or, maybe, you feel disrespected, and you withdraw. Or, you give in to your child’s demands to avoid conflict and keep the peace.

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Sometimes you might tighten your grip to show that you’re in control. Unfortunately, this usually invites a power struggle with your child because she starts pushing back. If you tighten your grip more and pull back in response, the endless cycle of manipulation, control, and defiance can go on and on.

Don’t Take Manipulative Behavior Personally

As a parent, I understand that it can sometimes be easy to take manipulative tactics personally. You think, “If he loved me, he would never lie to me.” Or, “If she cared about me, she would never try to sneak behind my back to go to her friend’s house.”

And some parents overgeneralize their kids’ behavior. They reason, “If he can look me in the face and deceive me, that means he’s a deceitful person.” But it’s best not to put too much meaning into these behaviors. Instead, treat them as behavior problems rather than moral or character deficiencies.

Why We Allow Our Kids to Manipulate Us

When we step back, we see that our kids can only manipulate us because we allow their behavior to be effective. Children are human—they want to get their way. Who doesn’t? But they’ve learned over time and through typical behaviors such as emotional blackmail, lying, tantrums, shutting down, negotiating relentlessly, or playing the victim that they can get what they seek. And it works. The danger is when those behaviors become a way of life for your child rather than something that only happens between parent and child.

Remember, kids can only manipulate us if we permit them to. It takes two to tango, but only one to change this pattern.

So how do we help them and ourselves so that we can stop the pattern of manipulation? Here are some tips for parents who are stuck in the manipulation cycle.

Recognize Manipulative Behaviors

You need to recognize manipulative behaviors so that you don’t get sucked in by them. Instinctively, as part of kids’ survival, they come with tools to get what they want and avoid what they don’t want. These tactics work because they trigger a reaction in us. Therefore, pay attention to your triggers.

For example, what if one of your triggers is that you can’t stand to see your child unhappy? If so, your child might try to blackmail you emotionally by acting sad until he gets what he wants. Start by asking yourself if your job is to make your child happy or to help him prepare to cope with life. If it’s the latter, then you can answer with something like the following:

“I’m sorry you’re sad, but you’re still grounded this weekend.”

Other common behaviors include lying, shutting down, and screaming the following: “I hate you!”; “You don’t care about me!”; “That’s not fair!”

Don’t take these statements personally. Respond by saying:

“I know you’re angry with me, but you do need to put your bike away now.”

Or say:

“I know you don’t see this as fair, but you must go to bed when I tell you to.”

Some kids will play the victim and say things like, “All the other kids’ parents let them hang out past 11:00.” Don’t take the bait. Separate the emotional content from what your child is trying to get. Hear her feelings about being the “only one,” but stand firm on your curfew time.

Parenting Tip: It’s helpful to write down the many different behaviors and words your child does and says to throw you off balance. Prepare for how you will respond next time you hear them.

Related content: Masters of Manipulation: How Kids Control You With Behavior

Know Your Triggers

Triggers are behaviors that upset you and get you to react. They can be a tone of voice, a specific look, or an attitude. Manipulative behaviors, therefore, might set you off. You are less likely to get set off if you know your triggers and prepare for them.

For example, if you have a strong need for approval from your child, then hearing him shout, “I hate you,” might trigger you. You might want peace between the two of you. Instinctively, you might let him off the hook so he won’t be unhappy with you. Recognizing your triggers will help you plan and prepare for how not to let your child push your buttons.

Parenting Tip: Write down your top three triggers and remind yourself often what they are.

Define Yourself and Your Parenting Principles

Manipulative behaviors are designed to throw you off balance and create self-doubt. Defining your parenting principles will help you when your kids come at you with their ingenious ways to make you unsure of yourself and lose your center. Hold on to yourself by holding on to your parenting principles. Be careful not to let your children’s emotions drive you. Show empathy toward their feelings, but stick to your established principles. Guiding your kids with your well-thought-out principles will generally be better than ensuring everyone feels good.

Parenting Tip: Write down your most important parenting principles and refer to them when you feel like you’re being manipulated.

Teach Your Child to Ask Directly for What They Want

Don’t get angry at your child for trying to go after what she wants in life. Would you prefer her not to? Be empathetic to her desires and wishes while helping her learn how to get what she wants more directly, honestly, and effectively.

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For example, help your son see that not doing what he is asked and ignoring your rules will not be effective in getting him what he wants. On the contrary, it will only get him in further trouble.

Help him learn to ask directly for what he wants. Instead of fighting you, he might know to say, “Mom, it’s difficult for me to get off the computer the second you ask. Could you give me some warning?” Or, “Dad, when you shout at me when I’m not doing what you want, I feel bad. It would help if you asked me more nicely.” Or “I think I’m old enough for a later curfew. Can we come up with a plan together?”

When your child asks for what he wants, listen. Give his requests the consideration they deserve. That does not mean always saying yes, but giving them some honest thought. If your child knows he can come to you directly, he will be less likely to try to get what he wants indirectly.

Believe in Your Child

Have faith that your child is a work in progress and can improve. They might need to learn better ways to manage themselves in life, but they are not morally defective because they try to manipulate us. Their intentions are not to “get us” or make our lives miserable. However, if we believe that’s their intention, we will see them that way.

Believing in our children will help them understand they’re not defective and can change and get what they want more appropriately.

Learn How to Soothe Yourself

Learn how to soothe yourself when you’re anxious or distressed. Take charge of your emotional health. Don’t give in to your kids’ manipulations so you can feel calmer.

If you need your child to be happy or to validate you, you might inadvertently give in to your children so that you can feel good. But each time you justify their behavior and let them off the hook so that you feel better, they learn that these behaviors are effective and grow to depend on them.

Instead, learn to tolerate your child being upset, which will help them learn better behavior. Managing your calm will free your kids up to learn how to manage their own lives and meet their needs met more successfully.


Kids need limits. Even though they’ll rarely say it out loud, kids need us to have backbones and to set those limits. Of course, they will test those limits and want what they want. But on a deeper level, they want us not to let them get away with developing a bad character. They want us to help them learn how to tolerate limits in life and the frustration that comes with sometimes not getting what they want.

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For more than 25 years, Debbie has offered compassionate and effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Debbie is the creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM™ program and is also the author of numerous books for young people on interpersonal relations.

Comments (35)
  • Tesla
    I have a 7 year old who is very manipulative. She lies when she doesn't get her way, lies on her siblings and just today has lied on me to my neighbor. When I catch her lying she shuts down and refuses to talk. She is very demanding towards meMore and has screamed "I hat you," several times. I'm at my wits end, I'm afraid she's going to get someone in trouble with her lying.
  • Worried Grandma
    Our grandson who is 15 years old has lived with us for the last 3 years due to his parents both having addictions, he had a hard life and was neglected when he lived with his parents. He is a very good lad generally but we keep having dramas atMore school, he cries at school and tells lots of lies to get attention. The latest one is going to cause serious problems, he goes to stay with his mum and dad during school holidays and he has told school a pack of lies about the situation, he has said they just sit in the house all day everyday, they are taking drugs and drinking alcohol in front of him, he said the 2 dogs they have are very ill, that they have lent money off him and wont give him it back, all this is untrue and he is always excited to go and spend time with them, they do go out they go to church, to town, take the dogs out he is already excitedly making plans with them for the Easter break. School have seen this as a safegaurding issue ( which it would be if it was true) and now social services are going to be involved. He has since told school that he was lying but we think they now think he is covering up. There have been issues in the past when he has made himself cry at school and said it was because of his great grandfather dying ( which happened over 3 years ago), he told them he had been in trouble for shop lifting which was another lie, he lies about school to us saying the food is gross when it is actually very good food, he says the classrooms are chaos and get smashed up by students,. Where do we go from here. The strange thing is he seems happy at home always cheerful, chatty etc he is always happy to go to school and has a good attendance record. We think he is doing all this to manipulate the school in to feeling sorry for him. but it is now getting serious ??? Can you offer advice please.
  • Natalie

    I have four children 15, 8, 5 and 2 living with me. My fifteen year old girl is going through standard teenager hormones and manipulates me a lot which bugs my partner (not her dad) cos he’s not seen her as a sweet little girl, he came in on her life at 12 so hormones were building then. He believes in rules, cisalpine, boundary’s which I agree but I think he’s heavy handed at times where as I pick my battles with my kids otherwise I’d be moaning at them constantly.

    My 8 year old isn’t biologically mine, her mother died when she was three and I’ve now been mum since she was four and a half. She has issues with me disaplining her that she doesn’t have with her dad. If I ask her to do something she refuses or moans at me for such a long time I give up. Dad asks her she straight away does it and no questions. I have some understanding because it was only daddy for nearly two years before I met him so she’s only had daddy to parent her.she is very manipulative and lies a lot, almost naturally. She does it mainly to get out of trouble, but I have explained to her that if she lies and I find out she’s done “the crime” I’m more angry and disappointed in her and if she tells me the truth and owns up I at least feel proud of her for not liking. Sometimes it’s just blatant for no reason, in fact the lie needn’t have been told cos she wasn’t in the wrong.

    My five year old, also not mine biologically, is a nightmare. She’s manipulative, lies, disrespectful, aggressive and down right spiteful. She bully’s her older sister (8 year old) bullies her little brother too (2 yr old) although not as often. She is great at school as far as I’m aware no real issues but omg when she gets home even when it’s a good day she starts, almost like she thinks “I’ve not got anything to do so I feel like causing trouble” she was in the car today saying “stop it, stop punching me, that hurts” I look behind me and she’s looking down so didn’t notice still saying this but her brother wasn’t doing anything at all but staring out the window. She was upstairs earlier, came down sobbing saying her sister had stamped in her, I asked to see the mark and she refused (cos it didn’t happen). Some of it is learnt behaviour cos I caught her sister (now 8) doing the same kinds of things to get her in trouble.

    This is now happening with my little boy, I see him doing the same things and it’s driving me mad that I can’t stop the cycle cos no one listens to me.

    I’ve tried talking about why, better ways to handle things, explaining how it’s affecting the other person and how people around her are feeling towards her, I’ve tried explaining how it would make her feel. I’ve tried bribery (a treat for good behaviour), I’ve tried the step, I’ve tried taking things away from her, I’ve tried sending her to bed earlier (5 mins early for each bad behaviour) and although I NEVER smacked my older daughters I have smacked her cos I’m at my wits end. Nothing works...help me please, only thing left that I can think is taking her to the Dr’s but she’s so lovely when she wants to be. The rhyme “there was a little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very very good but when she was bad she was horrid” that’s her to a “t”

  • co
    My nine-year-old Granddaughter has become a huge manipulator she also is starting to steal and lie she also never want's to go to School she is getting counselling I have a hard time, I lose my patience with her she so want's a reaction and I try so hard notMore to give her the reaction she want's but sometimes you cannot help it. Any suggestions on how to help her in a positive way.
  • M.L.
    Hi, I have a 6 yr old grandson who lives with me. He has been diagnosed as Autism spectrum with anxiety and adhd. He refuses to attend school any longer and is in therapy and on medication. Despite that any effort to get him to go to school or doMore school work is met with violent, aggressive resistance. I can't even get him to take a bath anymore. We are exploring a service dog to help him with his anxiety issues. Meanwhile all he wants to do is watch minecraft videos on his tablet or on you tube on the t.v. all day long literally. Is he addicted to the minecraft? Do I need to take the tablet and the t.v. until he straightens out. I do not give in to his meltdowns and let him know I will not allow him to destroy possessions or harm people, but at 100lbs and 4'6" I can't pick him up and physically force him to school. Any ideas? Thank you!
    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      I’m sorry to hear about the challenges you are facing with your grandson right now. I’m glad that you are working with local supports, such as therapists and researching service dogs, as well as reaching out here. It is difficult to say whether your grandson might be addictedMore to electronics, and I encourage you to bring this up with his treatment team. It could be useful to use electronics and gaming as motivators to meet his responsibilities, and I also recommend discussing this with your local support team. You might find additional ideas in “I Don’t Want to Go to School!” And What You Can Do About It. I recognize how difficult this must be for you, and I wish you and your family all the best moving forward. Take care.
  • Jkm
    I have a 13 year old step granddaughter. She was raised by her mother's mother and step grandfather until her grandmother died. she was told by her grandmother to lie when there was anything going on in the home that would get turned in to prevent the grandmotherMore in trouble with child protective services. My granddaughter (I've been married to her grandfather for 21 years) and have had her at least 3 or more times a week. Besides her biological grandmother me and my granddaughter were closer than she was to anybody. Now she is living with her father and stepmother. She has started losing on me to the point that my husband and I are afraid to be alone with her one on one. We (her father, step mom, grandfather and myself are planning on sitting her down and get all the lies she has told them and us out in the open and see what she has to say about it all. We do have visitation rights but have decided not to get her over night on our weekends just to see her for the day here and there hoping that she will see the consequence of her behaviors. We has similar problems and still do with her mother and believe her mother may be coaching her because my husband overheard her mother tell her to keep misbehaving and that way the father and step mother will let her live with the mother. Any advise as to what may help?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport
      Jkm Lying can be such a challenging behavior to address, and I’m glad that you’re here reaching out for support.  While you https://www.empoweringparents.com/blog/blended-families/ you do have control over the way you communicate with her and how you respond to her behavior while she is with you.  You might find someMore helpful information on how to address lying in https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/why-kids-tell-lies-and-what-to-do-about-it/.  I recognize what a tough situation this must be for all of you, and I wish you all the best moving forward.  Take care.
  • Tired Parents
    We have a 13 year old daughter who suffered from an eating disorder to the point of hospitalization, before that she started to hate having us tell her anything to do, ( and also harbored against authority figures) since she is in remission she has expressed she has no happinessMore and when she is asked to do anything and that on some days just includes getting ready for school , because she doses not want to . Yes she is in therapy and meds but nothing seems to help. Our daughter will even hold the eating disorder, if you try to reason with her. She reminds you she could just stop eating again. We are at a loss . She is manipulative , rude and very hurtful.
  • CreativeMom
    My younger son, 11 heard me telling my older son, aged 14 (who can be just like my narcissistic mother at times) "insisting that you are right all the time can hurt those around you and alienate friends well as hurting yourself in the long run.  It is okay toMore stand up and dig in your heels for moral and ethical rights and to protect others, but not, for example, how to do something on a computer."  Now if I dare disagree with my younger son on things, he says, "You are just like your mother! You think you are right and you can't admit you are wrong."  I have been sooooo careful to be the opposite and admit that I'm wrong even if I don't believe I am and apologize all the time, but he's found my emotional trigger.  I really appreciated the calm logic of this article.  I don't want him to grow up into a manipulative adult.  My logic flies out the window when deep emotional triggers are pulled and it often trips me up.  Thanks again for the article!
  • mayaana
    I really needed to read this today. My 8 year old son is learning how to manipulate me. I was manipulated by my mother my whole life, and I know I with draw or give in immediately when he does it. The difference is that he is a child andMore she knew better. This was a wake up call, thank you. I'm relieved to know that it's normal for him to do this, and that it's my job to shape him to not be an adult that lies and manipulates.
  • Gail
    I never thought it was possible to dislike your own children but i dislike my 15 year old daughter. She's lazy, manipulative, controlling & disrespectful. I feel so disappointed in myself as i thought i was doing a good job as a mum...but obviously not. My ex husband wanted toMore send her to boarding school when she was 5 & i refused as i went through that experience & it wasnt pleasant & i didnt want that for her but im now wishing i had sent her away as we are now divorced & im raising her & 11 year old son on my own & dad has had no contact for last 10 years. Feel like running away. Really struggling.
    • Leah

      This comment might be a tad late but I felt I should share my opinion on your situation. I'm not a mother, but I am a 17 year old daughter who was also lazy, manipulative, controlling disrespectful, horrible and quite the trouble maker in my youth (from 13-16). There were times where I'm positive my mum hated me too, and to be honest, my mum could've wrote this comment about me. I spent my time drinking, taking drugs and having sex with people 3-10 years my senior. I drank and took drugs on school nights, before school and even during school. My mum obviously didn't approve of the way I was behaving, but the more she tried to discipline me, the harder I rebelled. Therapy and interventions from other adults like teachers and family members only sent me further into a frenzy because of my utter contempt towards authority figures and anyone who tried to tell me what to do. I don't want to say it's normal because it's far from normal, but adolescence is the time when we're trying to figure ourselves out, our sexuality, feelings and our place in the world and it doesn't help that we have our hormones raging out of control. I finally let go of my rebellious persona once I left school, my mum had stopped bothering trying to stop my dangerous and destructive behaviours, and all those things I found so fun didn't seem so fun anymore. With a generation rampant with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and personality disorders, it makes our teenage years that much more confusing and unpleasant. My advice is set boundaries if possible, try and find out if your daughter is suffering from any sort of mental illness or if she's experienced something traumatic as a lot of teenagers act out in this manner after a traumatic event, and I know this isn't a popular opinion, but let her be who she is because sooner or later she will grow out of it - I did, and so did dozens of other teenagers in my school and hundreds, if not thousands, of teenagers who went through similar behavioural issues worldwide.

      Keep your spirit up, just remember nothing lasts forever and your daughter will thank you later on for setting the rules and boundaries you did, and she'll forever be thankful that you tried to reach her. Xx

      • Lily
        Thank you Leah for your perspective. I am going through a very difficult stage with my 16 year old son and what you wrote is helpful.
    • Tommygun1908
      Be strong , keep talking to her and listen to her but try not to let her have her own way . That sounds hard but if you talk to her when she's calm and tell her why you have made the decisions you have made she might understand.
    • shawmona8
      Please be encouraged.....no matter what I raised 3 boys and a girl alone after my divorce...so I really do understand?
  • Lara
    Hello I just posted a comment but when I refreshed the page it disappeared! Where is is gone?
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport


      All of our comments are moderated before publishing, so

      there can be a delay between when a comment is written and when it appears on

      our site.Thanks for your question.

      • Lara
        RebeccaW_ParentalSupport Oh thank you that was a moment of panic!:)
  • Lara
    My 15 year old son has mild hemiparesis (weakness of one side of the body) which never stopped him doing anything. He loves sports, is a member of two sport clubs and is very enthusiastic follower of football. He recently started underperforming at school although his behaviour is exemplary -More his biggest issue used to be "chatting" too much in the lessons and concentration but that seems to have resolved itself. He doesn't let anybody know that he has any issues with any subjects until it is exam time - then it all falls apart. He is under impression that doing prep is enough work towards good exam results and the school doesn't do enough to reinforce idea of constructive revision time required - that is a skill that needs to be tailor-made for each individual. What is making things worse is that his prep through the year gets good marks and he does show interest in topics and takes part in discussions etc. - in other words there are no obvious signs that anything is wrong - until it is time to put it all into exam form. We are at a loss what to do. We feel bad about punishing him for not revising as it seems that he is genuinely unaware of what is expected. He can now see other children that seem to "know it all" and is saying that he is clearly unintelligent and a failure. We were hoping that in time he would mature enough to start taking pride in his achievements and use success as an inspiration to work hard but he seems to be seeing himself as a failure. He even said he thinks that he is unable to process information like other people because of his "condition". We don't know what to do. Is he manipulating us emotionally? Is he just lazy?  Paediatrician thinks that he has no ADD (we had that concern as he was just "zoning out" sometimes while listening to something he has no interest in) and that he is just a normal teenage boy who will "grow out" of these minor issues. We have concerns but there seems to be nobody available for any advice. He is not materialistic, doesn't care about expensive clothes, gadgets etc. His biggest passion is sports and to stop him doing sports as a form of punishment seems so counterproductive. I will always have doubts in the back of my mind about whether it is a part of his "condition" and will always feel guilty for punishing him. On the other hand we can't just let him sink academically, especially when we know that he has capacity. Puberty is starting and we are aware of all the other issues that are arising with it - self-esteem, girls etc.  We just don't know what to do.
    • Darlene EP


      I can understand your concern.

      Your son is capable and you want him to meet his full potential, but for

      whatever reason he is not performing as well as you would have hoped. It could

      be that he is not focusing in class, not studying enough, or the right material,

      or it could be that he is simply not a good test taker. Whatever the reason, if

      you are coaching him on ways to be successful, like good study habits and

      asking questions if he does not understand something, you are doing your part.

      Debbie Pincus also wrote this great article that may be helpful for you as

      well, https://toms.thruways.com/coaching/index.cfm?CFID=6407d3ff-2b3e-4a0f-9f3e-473edd2eab88&CFTOKEN=0&p=case-psl&customerID=6623687&caseID=42234&do=view&r=success. Ultimately though, your

      son’s grades are his responsibility at his age. Punishing him is probably not

      the best approach. And we would agree that it is counterproductive to take away

      enriching and positive activities like sports for not doing well on a revision.

      If anything, I would try and find positive reinforcements for doing his best.

      Especially because you really don’t know if there is something else going on

      that is impeding his academic performance. We know this is a difficult thing to

      be dealing with. Thank you for reaching out. Take care.

  • Jeremy

    I have been in a relationship for the past 18 months with a women that has an 8 year old girl. I myself have a 6 year old daughter and they are good friends. Since the early stages of our relationship I noticed that her daughter doesn't respect adults to the point where you have to ask her 3-5 times to do something, doesn't clean up after herself, isn't good at sharing and uses crying as a form of manipulation to get her way. In the beginning her mom would hate it when she cried would beg the daughter not to cry. Besides this we've been dealing with her ex taking her custody time and showing up unannounced to again interrupt her time with her daughter. I spoke with him and his sister tonight and they told me that if she is upset or crying and doesn't want to go to her moms or wants to leave then it's ok to allow an 8 year old to dictate where and when she comes and goes between her parents. The daughter is extremely intelligent and knows the power she has over both her parent when she turns on the water works. I'm having a hard time accepting that it's healthy to allow an 8 year old to control when and where she visits regardless of the pre-arranged visitation schedule. The father and sister think it's perfectly normal to not allow her to come to her moms house if the 8 year old gets upset and cries and doesn't want to go. This is causing an issue with my girlfriend and me and also very upsetting to my daughter when she is looking forward to spending time with her good friend. Besides that, they told me tonight that whenever my name is brought up, the 8 year old gets tense or has anxiety. I guess I'm the bad guy since I'm trying to instill some type of discipline and structure for her to respect authority, be a good friend by sharing and not being selfish and to be clean and organized and pick up after herself. I've never laid a hand on her and would never do that and have only raised my voice when it's the 3-5 time her mom has asked her to do something and I finally speak up and say listen to your mom. I would love any advice or insight on any of these subjects.

    Thank you

    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport



      differences are quite common in most families, and it can be even more

      challenging in a blended family with issues like custody and visitation

      schedules.  I hear how frustrated you are with the behavior you are

      witnessing with your girlfriend’s daughter, and how it is not only affecting

      your relationship with your girlfriend, but your daughter as well. 

      Something we often find effective in this type of situation is to work together

      with your girlfriend to develop standard house rules which apply to everyone in

      the house, and to have the biological parent be in charge of enforcing those

      rules.  You might find our article, https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-blended-family-wont-blend-help-part-i-how-you-and-your-spouse-can-get-on-the-same-page/, helpful as you move forward.  Take care.

  • Exsugarbabe
    My 13 year old son is a nightmare. Sometimes I see a bright "different" funny kid and other times he's a monster. He just knows how to push every button. My son is lazy, angry and very manipulative worst of all he's a lovely kid around therapists and doctors. My exMore was the same and sometimes his behaviour is the identical and as my ex was very abusive this makes it harder to deal with. He tell people he likes me but doesn't want to be close to anyone and this is logical as so many people have let him down and I have said some awful things myself. but everytime I get close he gets worse as if he's pushing me away on purpose. People in authority think I've not put any effort in but I have, all he does is reject me and any kindness I try. He is in the bottom sets at school even though he's bright when you talk to him and have very interesting and thoughtful opinions and this frustrates him, the problem is he didn't try for the Educational Psychologist so the school just dumped him with kids he can't stand and he keeps getting sent ot class. Our relationship isn't all negative but as soon as something goes wrong I get a wobbly. Can anyone help, is this an attachment problem?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      The start of the teen years can be a tough time, for kids

      and parents alike. It’s not unusual for kids to go from being kind and loving

      one minute to angry and pushing you away the next minute, as Janet Lehman

      explains in her article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/adolescent-behavior-changes-is-your-child-embarrassed-by-you/. He’s starting a

      developmental stage called individuation, a time when a child starts to pull

      away from his family towards adult independence. The unfortunate thing is, for

      some kids, this involves verbal disrespect and a lot of attitude.  Try to

      stay focused on the positives and set limits around the negative behaviors you

      may be seeing. If you are concerned there could be an underlying issue affecting

      your son’s behavior, talk with his doctor. S/he would be able to talk with you

      about these concerns and could possibly rule out any underlying issues. We appreciate you

      writing in. Take care.

  • Georgia53
    My six year old great niece has the bad habit of lying and manipulating. Recently she got in trouble in school of taking another child's lollipop! As the story goes, her parents told me that she told them that she took the sucker and lied because I, the great auntMore who has guardian angel since she was born, asks me questions that make me uncomfortable and it upset me so that's why I lie and do bad things! My questions to her have been nothing more than; how ya doing? how's mom and dad? How are things going at school and at home? Basically just everyday conversations! This child hasn't been brought up in the best home environment in her younger years. Her mother is an addict and lives out of state now with her new husband and is presently in recovery. The child's father has custody and lives with him and his girlfriend whom the child calls mom. I have always been there for the child and we are extremely close (or shall I say, we were!). Also, let me add that the "mother" informed me that the child does kind of miss me but, wants to see me at Christmas because of I have presents for her. Is this the only reason I ask? The bottom line is this! The father, who communicated thru the mother instead of coming directly to me, said that because I asked the child "inappropriate" questions and it seemed like every Monday after spending a weekend with me the child gets in some sort of trouble in school, he does not want her spending any more than a couple hours with me! I feel that the child has used me as her excuse for bad behavior and the parents are falling for it!  Please note that when she has come with me for a weekend when it's time to go home she still cries and lately has complained of not feeling well as I drive her home. Now, should I ask why she cries and gets sickly? I am at my wits end. Should I just let this go and go on with my life or take a stance?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport


      I can hear how distressed this situation makes you. It

      can be tough when a parent makes a decision you don’t understand or you

      disagree with. Because we are a website aimed at helping parents develop more

      effective ways of addressing acting out behavior, we are limited in the advice

      we can offer you in this situation. Ultimately, the amount of time a parent allows

      his child to spend with someone else is his decision. How you respond it is up

      to you. I wish we could be more helpful. Good luck to you moving forward. Take


  • Mom needs your help
    I feel like I am losing my mind. I am so scared that my daughter hates me. That she never comes out of this behavior and gets worst. I feel so incompetent. I use to think I would be a great mom and my daughter and I would have aMore great relationship. Instead she is this resentful, seemingly angry child that says even when she smiles sometimes she's not even happy. If you see my daughter you would never guess that she could be so defiant and rebellious. Everyone says what a great child I have. Not even the rest of our family knows I'm having any trouble with her and I don't want to tell them. I am so scared. I don't know what to do next. How to fix any of this.
    • Broken hearted mom
      Mom needs your help I too am facing those same problems now with my 10 yr old daughter. She is constantly telling me (the mom) to "Shut It", meaning be quiet! I am probably going to a psychologist this summer about it, I can't take it anymore...I want to runMore away from this toxic lifestyle I'm living. I feel so incompetent too, wondering where I went wrong being the "nice" mom and she never  had a relationship with her father. I wondered how you've been handling your situation. My daughter is very messy and so is her hair. She says "It's my hair and I don't want it brushed" it's super long, and super Rasta. She is constantly on the internet and rarely ever speaks a pleasant tone to me. She manipulates me in public so I don't take her to many places in fear of being made a fool. It is so scary, it's as if she doesn't have a heart at all and all I want is her to know I love her.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      Mom needs your help

      I hear you. It can be tough to know where to start when

      there are so many acting out, defiant behaviors going on. You may find the

      article “My Child’s Behavior Is So Bad, Where Do I Begin?” How to Coach Your Child Forward by Carole Banks helpful for deciding what behavior to focus on

      first. We appreciate you writing in and wish you the best of luck moving

      forward. Be sure to check back if you have any questions. Take care.

  • Mom needs your help
    Hi. It's the middle of the night and I am here so you I am a bit desperate. I have been a bit manipulative myself as a parent thinking I was doing things to help my daughter to be a perfect little girl. I know this is wrong now. IMore have been a good mother in many ways though but maybe a bit too enmeshed and over protective. My little girl will be 13 next month and she is very manipulative and she can be rebellious and stubborn and even disrespectful to me and use hurtful words. Her dad and I separated after 15 years of marriage and so it is just me the single parent in the home. She still have interaction with her dad. I love my little girl and it is scaring me that she is going to turn out to be the great girl she really is if these behaviors continue and I don't figure out how to properly handle them. I have been having to take away her electronic devices that can communicate with others because I have read inappropriate conversations on them sometimes with people she met on them. When I take them away she gets very angry. I don't know how long to take them away for but when I give them back she gets into those inappropriate conversations again, so I take them again and the cycle starts again. She says mean things and shuts down at times. I love my little girl and it hurts to see her behaving this way and also to not have a beautiful relationship with her when she is acting like this. I am so afraid that I do not get this right and it worsens as she gets older. Please Help!
    • Exsugarbabe
      Mom needs your help  Don't ever expect a perfect child or relationship with your child, it's an impossible goal. Maybe talk to her about any inappropriate conversations and tell her concrete reasons for your concerns and don't snoop so much, make a relationship where she tells you anyway. If she isMore looking for the wrong kid of attention from men validate her in other ways, the interment is extremely important to some kids so no wonder she's so angry when you take it off her and are these conversations that bad? Are with kids her own age and don't you remember being a teen?
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      Mom needs your help

      I hear you. It can be tough when it seems as though your child just keeps

      making the same bad choices over and over again. Many parents I have worked

      with have shared similar frustrations that their child acts great to earn back

      a privilege and then acts out again once they have it back. Truthfully, it may

      seem like you’re going around and around: taking a privilege, letting her earn itback, and then taking it away again when she acts

      out. This rehearsal and repetition

      will actually help your daughter learn that all behavior has consequences. It

      may help to know that the behavior you describe is normal for someone your

      daughter’s age. As Janet Lehman explains in her article Adolescent Behavior Changes: Is Your Child Embarrassed by You?. Normally well behaved

      kids can become defiant and rebellious when they hit adolescence. I can

      understand the concern you have around the inappropriate conversations she’s

      been having. It’s OK to limit her access to social media whenever possible. You

      might also consider monitoring her when she’s online. Hang in there.  I

      know this can be a very challenging time. Be sure to check back and let us know

      how things are going. Take care.

      • Mom needs your help
        DeniseR_ParentalSupport Mom needs your help  Replied but something went wrong I guess. Thanks for your help. It is quite trying at times. I am really doing the best I can and open to good advice. I want my little girl to be the best God created her to be. Didn't thinkMore for a moment it could be this tough. Thank you again.
        • Mom needs your help
          Mom needs your help DeniseR_ParentalSupport So tonight was hard. I took her phone away like I said a few weeks ago. Tonight I found out one of her friends gave her one of her spare phones to use. I feel like I have a child that I don't know and can'tMore trust. Then she tells me all her friends are afraid of me. Really made me sad with that one. She followed that up with when I'm being nice I'm faking it. Ripped my heart out. Then she says half of the reason why she is upset all the time is because I take her electronic devices away. Really she means the Ipod. That I waste my money.  she says I take things away too long, that other parents don't take them so long. But as soon as I give them back she gets into those bad conversations again on them. It hurts so bad. Especially saying my love is fake. I feel so devastated. I'm like who is this child and will she get worse.
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