Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Manipulation of Young Children

If you are parent, then you would be lying if you said you never manipulate your children. I know lots of people say that children are manipulated by cartoons, commercials, video games, etc. But really and truly, this responsibility lies in the hands of the parents. (I never saw a 3 yr old at Toys R Us with HER check card out buying a My Little Pony, or a 4 yr old with a Kroger Plus card buying the marshmallow cereal he saw on tv) How could you get through the 2-5 yr old years without manipulation? Notice the tone switch in teh following situations: "Would you like to go to the (lower voice to mumbling) the park (you really don't want to go it's really really hot) or (change tone to audible and obvious excited tones) or to the play place at the MALL?!!? "Honey, would you like to have (bland monotone lowering of voice) a grilled cheese sandwich (which requires prep and turning on the stove) OR (excited loud voice) pizza?!? (which I can get out of the freezer and nuke in the microwave). Again, notice the changes: "Son, would you rather stay here with mommy (making face like it would be SO boring bc mommy will just be taking a solo bath and reading a book) or GO to the store with DADDY??!?! (expression as if daddy would be going to the zoo rather than the home improvement store). We do this all the time. We want to give them choices, because what kind of parent would just DICTATE what their kids will do all the time...I mean we have to give them a sense of free-will here. But, doesn't it just make it a whole lot easier if they choose the one you wanted them to pick, if you WERE doing the picking?! Also...don't ever ever ever ask "What would you like to do today?" Especially if it is 4:30 on a weekday....when the choices are really kind of limited anyway. You will INEVITABLY receive the most outrageous and impossible answer they could think of. "Let's make doughnuts!" or, "Let's go see granny!" (who lives 2 hrs away). And, can you imagine what would happen if even for one day you did every single thing your child suggested? Imagine a day where you made up your mind, we are going to do whatever they want to do today, whatever it is! Imagine all the places you would go! Why do they choose those times to think of all those things they have been wanting to do that have been swimming around in their little heads!? And...if you ever TELL them yes, you are going to do a particular thing, you may as well have signed your name in blood! They will NEVER forget it! So, as easily manipulated as children can be...they certainly still maintain their intelligence when parents' set themselves up with those "gotcha" questions. "What do you want to do today...pick anything you want!" "WELL....SINCE you asked...I would very much like to make mud pies in the house and feed them to the neighbor's dog...and by the way...remember 5 months ago when you said we would go to the circus soon? How is that coming along mom?? " you really want to go to the CIRCUS?" (said with mangled facial expression and lowered tone as if it would be as fun as going to the dentist) or would you rather go to TARGET! They have My Little Ponies at TARGET!" (said with extreme happiness and glee!)


heathcliff said...

This is your most entertaining blog yet. Very funny and well-written. I nominate it for an award.

Corey said...

So true. Katie is especially funny to watch when you do that (because I am too much of an amazing parent to try to manipulate my young children) because she genuinely gets excited when you say something in a "happy" voice. You can say something like "Lets go to the doctor!" really excited like and raise your arms in celebration and she will be all like "Okay!" and take off running to the door.

andysbethy said...

I have had pretty good success with this working on Canaan, but Zion seems to be less susceptible to the "enthusiastic voice". Once he makes up his mind, it is much harder to change. Canaan can be reasoned with, or manipulated, depending on the situation, but Zion just grits his teeth and holds out for whatever it is he has set his sights on. I'm still holding out hope that he will outgrow this stage though! Luckily, he isn't old enough to have too many opinions yet, or to vocalize them much at all. We'll just see what happens in the future.