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Positive Aspect of Manipulation

When your child is in mental health treatment or a rehabilitation center, it often feels like one step forward and two steps back. Your daughter may be pleasant and happy on the phone, and then you find out her real motivation was to get you to send her a new pair of sneakers. Now you’re second guessing her motives and feeling defeated; just when you thought you were seeing progress, you're now seeing it as manipulation.


While the thought of more manipulation from your child immediately feels disappointing and frustrating, it doesn't have to. Sometimes manipulation is a sign of progress.

What Is Manipulation?
Often negatively viewed, manipulation is something we all do and often for good reason. Stop and think a moment: Why does your son manipulate? Because he wants things to go his way. Manipulation is the means by which he controls the situation to get that outcome.


See, your child is gaining independence. Perhaps he’s already had a little too much independence, and this has caused some trouble. Now you’re taking back some of that control and he’s adjusting to it. By using manipulation, your son is able to achieve some sense of control and determine his own outcome.


And you do the same thing. Husbands may bring flowers home to wives before they mention a baseball game they’re thinking of attending. Teenagers clean the house before telling their parents about bad grades on their report cards. Parents bribe children with ice cream cones if they don’t whine in the grocery store. Everyone manipulates some of the time; it’s how we interact as humans. Most of the time manipulation is not a negative factor in a relationship.


Understanding Negative Manipulation
Every person who is under another’s authority, even a little bit, manipulates to get what they want or need. You do what you need to do to get done what you need to get done. But when you do this without concern for the other person, your manipulation becomes self-centered and potentially damaging to the relationship.


The daughter who is pleasant and does extra chores in the hope that she can get her curfew extended isn’t hurting you by manipulation. She’s simply doing what she can do to get what she wants. By contrast, the son who manipulates you into giving him $100 for school clothes only to turn around and spend it on a night of drinking doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions--in this case, his lying--on the relationship. That is negative manipulation.


Understanding the Ultimate Goal


In a perfect world, no one would have to deal with any kind of manipulation. But that’s not our world. So it’s important to remember your ultimate goal. Maybe before entering a mental health rehabilitation center, your daughter was constantly negative, always down and miserable to be around. She didn’t listen. She broke every rule. She acted as though she hated you.


Now, after CARES Heart Transformation Treatment, she’s playing by the rules. Sure, she’s manipulating a little bit here and there, but she’s agreeable. She’s happy. She’s the girl you fondly remember. That is progress.
So while her motives might not be the most angelic, she’s not being a mopey brat. Instead, she’s smiling, laughing and the family is beginning to focus on building positive relationships. And that’s what matters most.


Learning to Have Influence
Eventually, your child will grow up and have 100 percent control over his actions. He’ll make decisions, follow through with them or not, and face the consequences, both good and bad. But while he’s under your care, you must learn to balance your control and influence with his growing independence.


You have the ability to call the shots only as long as he’s living under your roof or living on your finances. Once he moves out and lives financially independent from you, all you have left is influence. If you build the relationship into one of trust and mutual respect, that influence can last a lifetime.


It’s this influence that keeps you and the values you hold in his mind when he makes decisions. And it’s the relationship that you build with him now that makes him want to come back at 20, 30, and even 40 years old to seek your thoughts and opinions before making major decisions.
There’s Still a Need for Parental Guidance
Teenagers, while striving for as much independence as possible, still need parental guidance, control and influence, regardless of how grown they believe they are. While they may see themselves as completely independent, a part of them needs the love and guidance that parents give.
As a parent, you have a responsibility to help your child face reality. Encourage her to look at herself honestly and see even those qualities that she wants to ignore. There will be resistance, of course, as nobody likes to face their personal demons; but this is what everyone needs in the long run. It’s what your child needs, and wants, to keep life manageable.
Set an Example of Self-Worth
It’s amazing how kids learn. Although they may act completely appalled when you calmly draw a line in the sand regarding their disrespectful or ungrateful behavior, your children are internalizing the example of self-worth that you're modeling.
And when you do that--telling your daughter that you’re no longer going to tolerate her negative behaviors--you’re putting the ball in her court. You’re giving her the choice to decide how important this pissing contest is. You are the parent. You are calm and collected. Then she will decide if she’s going to throw a fit and deal with those consequences, or realize that the battle isn't worth the fallout and let it go.
This works largely because you stay calm. When you’re calm, you’re in control. It’s when you get angry, when you fly off the handle, that battles escalate and regretful words are yelled. Most often in these scenarios the teen gains control of the situation, pulling your strings to make you angry and, therefore, easier to defeat.
But you are the adult. So you remain calm. You don't react to her. You stay in control of the conversation.
Once you’ve exerted your own self-worth in this way, your child will soon follow suit and learn to respect the boundaries you’ve set. She’ll realize it’s easier to get what she wants when she meets your basic expectations.
Maybe It’s Not Manipulation
It’s easy to jump to conclusions when you’re so accustomed to a certain negative scenario playing itself out again and again. But when behaviors seem to be turning toward the positive, you should give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he is changing. Maybe he really does want to be with you and maybe, deep down, he does appreciate you.
Maybe he’s not trying to manipulate you.
And here you are, thinking the worst. This is understandable, given the history. A common saying is to hope for the best but plan for the worst. This is good advice. Assume he’s being sincere--that God has given him a change of heart. Because it does happen – a lot. That’s the magic of CARES Heart Transformation Treatment; it opens up kids’ hearts to accept God’s love and know they have it, just like they have your love, no matter what.
So just because your son is being nice and cooperative, don’t jump to conclusions and assume an ulterior motive. Enjoy it. Embrace it. It may just continue.
When There’s Remorse
When your child is at a rehabilitation center, you want more than just behavior modification. You want a change of heart. You want a child who is happy and loving and kind. But it takes time. And when it’s slow moving, you take every gain you can.
One thing that’s often overlooked is the part of your child that’s sorry for the hurt and pain he’s caused you and others. Even if his behavior hasn’t yet changed, showing remorse is key. It shows a change in thought and a change in heart. It shows he’s thinking about others and understanding how his actions have an impact on those he loves.
Again, this is progress.
It’s All About the Relationship
The first step in healing and in CARES Heart Transformation Treatment, is recognizing the value in the relationship you have with your child. When the relationship is healthy and strong, you don’t have to control her because you already influence her. And you will continue to influence her every day for the rest of her life.
It’s Progress Not Perfection
While your child is in mental health treatment, you need to remember to focus on the progress he is making, not the fact that there are still mistakes being made. No one is perfect. Not you and not your child.
So it’s progress toward a better heart. Progress toward a more loving self. Progress toward God’s love and being a better person. That’s what’s important. And that’s what we do at CARES Heart Transformation Treatment. Call us today to learn more.

Robert Torres - Creator of Heart Transformation® Interview

Heart Transformation

1420 Celebration Blvd. Suite 200,

Celebration, FL 34747

Phone. 407-901-4000

Email. admissions@hearttransformation.com