Manipulative crying

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Malika, Oct 28, 2011.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    This afternoon I went to a little show that the kids from J's activity centre put on - very sweet and J performed his (very small) part to perfection, I thought :)
    It is raining heavily here and I grabbed J's new umbrella to get to and from the car and into the building. When he saw it, after the show, he wanted to play with it inside "to do magic," he said (lots of the show was based on magic routines). I obviously refused as it could be dangerous and hurt someone. So then... J started crying in this really distressed-seeming way and various people, big and small, started coming up looking very concerned, asking "What's wrong, J?" One teacher looked really worried and quizzed me about why he was crying like this... I'm afraid I felt very cynical, as if it was all just an (unconscious, obviously) bid to get what he wanted in quite a manipulative way.
    Am I being hard hearted?? I really didn't feel nearly as sorry for him as the others did...
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    My difficult child-mommy-gut says... overload.
    Putting on a show - and holding it all together so well... results in burnout.

    been there done that. Too many times. It gets easier as they get older...
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    IC, it depends on the kid - Onyxx still does the crocodile tears.

    Just remember... Crocodiles have sharp teeth.
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Step... yes.

    My difficult child does it both ways.
    But... 100% consistent that after "over the top good" for a performance or whatever else... it is ALWAYS a meltdown. As a teen, its more subtle - but its still there. As a teen, though, I can call him on it - and he opts to leave and shut down, he knows he's had all he can handle. Even 5 years ago... he had no concept of where that line was.

    However... if I don't see a trigger that has history to it... it tends to be the fake stuff. And when I call him on those... I get a different reaction.

    That's why parents are the "experts" on their own kids... nobody else has the history!
  5. Methuselah

    Methuselah New Member

    Insane, my two difficult children are incredible fakers and they are in high school. They can cry on command to manipulate a situation to their advantage. It is a sight to behold. People fall for it all the time. I'm the bad mom lets the victim know they were just conned. Yeah, my life sucks.
  6. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    It's just as if J has a special talent for knowing how to melt people's hearts (and thereby get what he wants)... I know I sound cynical but I have seen it in operation lots of times. He looks very cute and sweet, almost girlishly pretty features, and he often seems to elicit a fond/affectionate response from people (as long as they don't spend too long with him, perhaps :)). I feel sure that if he had been alone with me, he would have started crying in a loud, no-holds-bar way... but this afternoon, in front of the "crowds", he was crying in a very soft, distressed way as though really hurt and wounded. And, sure enough, bigger girls came over and hugged him, kissing his head, looking very concerned... I am quite sure that, in Morocco for example, he would have succeeded in getting the umbrella this way... Children are quite spoilt there in some ways.
    It's clearly all unconscious... but he's done this since early infancy. One does have to shut one's heart against it, really, because it is a basically dishonest way to get something... which I'm sure I also indulged in as a child...
  7. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Methuselah... I believe you. How and why they got to where they are, may or may not be known - ever. But they do have a warp in their thinking, for a minimum.

    But J is 4. At that age, it would be unusual to have that degree of sophistication... but not, I suppose, impossible.
  8. keista

    keista New Member

    J being manipulative? NO
    You being cold hearted? NO

    He wanted that umbrella. PERIOD. He had absolutely no comprehension as to why he couldn't play with it. Your explanation probably didn't make sense to him because he thinks he's always safe and cautious. You knew there was nothing seriously wrong with him. Just another day in the life of J.
  9. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, it's not as though he is really calculating about it - that would be sophisticated. It's just innate, an instinct. Like I say, he's always done it. He used to do it to get sweets in Morocco - would point to sweets making distressed eyes to the shopkeeper or pleading directly with the shopkeeper if I refused him; they would always want to give him one and remonstrate with me if I said we were just going to eat lunch or whatever...
    It just seems to go with the territory, somehow. I don't blame him for it or judge, exactly - but I don't like the behaviour. People in Morocco used to say I was hard-hearted for refusing him things that he wanted sometimes. Being able to accept not always having what you want seems like a big character plus to me...
  10. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Malika... even my almost-easy child pulls that (the puppy-dog-eyes begging look that melts adult hearts...), STILL. And she's a teen now. I'm having to teach her how to turn if OFF so it doesn't get her into trouble as she gets older. But... part of this is purely innate kid!
  11. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Makes sense, I mean, you are right, he IS very very cute (I saw pics, smile) and if this has been inadvertently reinforced by others around him (and what the heck can you do about that without looking like a monster...someone comes up and cuddles your child and you say, Knock it off??? I doubt it). So over the years he gets more and more skilful at it, not because he is consciously trying to hurt you but he is doing what all little kids do when they want their way and are tired but maybe to an expert level (which after all is a basic concept in the whole difficult child picture if you ask me...they do lots of things typical kids do but the extent, frequency, degree, etc. is so much more of an extreme).
    In this incident, maybe it was a combo of everything. Mine too loses it especially after doing a great job at one time a school concert. My guy actually memorized a whole thing for Black History month and said it at a microphone in front of a huge audience! I am still proud of it. He could not even let anyone say good job. On the way back to his class after the day time show, the principal came up behind him and touched his shoulder (da** her, she knew not to touch him) and he hit her off and kicked a glass display cabinet. HE got in trouble when SHE broke the rule we all agreed on. I was so pi**ed off. He was little then.
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    My youngest two boys were adorable little brats from the time they were pre-shoolers and that was probably what saved them from getting killed many a time. They had these big brown doe-eyes that they could just turn on someone and look up at them with a little smile and the other person was done. Same with Keyana. No one can say no to that child. If she looks at you with that million dollar smile, you might as well just give it up. Whatever she wanted, she got.

    The umbrella made me laugh. I have a broken one sitting in the corner of my room right now because...yes, I told her if she opened it in the house she might break it so dont open it in the house. What did she do? Opened it in the house and twirled it around and around until she broke it! Sigh. And she so wanted that Tinkerbell umbrella. I kept it as a reminder to go buy another. Guess I am not replacing it now.
  13. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    OOh I know much too much about manipulative difficult children.

    Oldest has always been melodramatic. When she was about 8, she was playing outside our apartment. Some kids came and told me, "Oldest is hurt! She twisted her ankle! She told us to come get you!" My response was, "well, tell her to come home." I refused to move.. I knew her too well. Next thing I know, another mother is at my door, having carried Oldest to my apartment. She says, "I think she's really hurt." I thanked her and got Oldest inside. I'm sure she thought I was a *terrible* mother for not coming to get my child. Oldest is crying, wailing, begging me to take her to the emergency room for her "sprained ankle." I look at it. No swelling, no redness, yet she screams whenever I touch it. I give her a bag of ice and tell her we'll wait and see. An hour later, she was up and running around.

    So no, I don't think you were being hard-hearted. If so, I was the queen of hard-heartedness lol. With a four year old, I wouldn't be too concerned about it. I think there is certainly some manipulation there, heck every toddler in the world learns to manipulate his mom by crying/throwing a tantrum for what he wants, right? But it sounds pretty "normal" to me. Being "hard hearted" is preferable to giving in to it.
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    LOL CinVA...isnt that what those makers of gumball machines intended? That manipulative kids (especially little kids) would throw fits so that hassled parents would give in and let them have quarters to put in the machines to hush them up!
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree, that our kids ramp up when they finish a task--show, sports, school day, whatever--and then don't know how to turn it off, so keep on going, and then when we put a stop to it, they have a meltdown. Typical. Malika, just chalk it up to experience. (Was there a way you could have suggested he play outside with-the umbrella?)
    Janet, yes, gumball machines ... when difficult child was a preschooler, I put him in timeout just as we walked into a grocery store. NO QUARTERS. Nothing off the shelves. Period.
    Of course, a woman comes along and sees him crying in front of the machines and against my wishes--I specficially and explicitly told her he was in time out--she gave him two quarters, which he immediately slid into the machine. He gave me this "Haha, gotcha!" sly sort of look as he did it, too. I think I was angrier with-the woman than I was with-him.
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I think you're absolutely right, buddy, that these behaviours are like those of ordinary children but more intense and more frequent... I'm not sure, though, that doing the show would have been so hard for J. They just seemed to have fun doing it... he certainly didn't look stressed. He was in a little sketch about a sad princess - various of the small kids came on bearing gifts which she refused with a disconsolate shake of the head; each child then had to shrug their shoulders and shake their head and then leave (she finally cheers up when a handsome prince arrives bearing a large pink heart...) I thought he was impressive because whereas the other kids were kind of looking around or looking a bit dazed, he seemed very concentrated and "in role"! He seemed so old and mature, suddenly... maybe he has a talent for acting :) Anyway, he may or may not have been tired out from the day but I think he was just trying it on, as they say...
    Terry, no way he could have played outside because it was pouring with rain (hence the umbrella!) Oh, yes, these interfering "well-wishers"...
  17. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I think what was meant is - this is not something "normal" for him, right? So it was special. And the mild "high" from doing something special...
  18. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, I see... though all the other kids would have had this mild high, wouldn't they? Anyway, it wasn't a big deal - I was just "interested" in it because of this manipulative theme. Just another day... I could also be manipulative as a child. I remember when I was about eight, some older children being nasty to me. I suddenly blurted out that my father had just died (not true, needless to say). They immediately changed their tune, of course, and were very sympathetic. I remember being a little embarrassed when the truth was revealed.
  19. buddy

    buddy New Member

    That's kind of funny and creative Malika!
  20. HaoZi

    HaoZi Guest

    The crying is pretty normal kid behavior. You're not being cold hearted, you just know him better than strangers and can tell when he's turning on the waterworks to get what he wants.