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My youngest is an excellent actor. At three he could fake cry so well that even when we (my family) knew he was faking it (we had asked him to) we STILL felt bad. Instead of saying, "I hate you!" when he's angry about something, which I consider pretty typical for his age, he says, "I'm a jerk! Nobody likes me!" Sometimes, he will even slap himself. *I do not slap the kids, or call them jerks, or EVER say I don't like THEM - I have said I don't like their attitude &tc.

 

Luke charms nearly everyone we meet. People give him things, strangers give him things (or try to) all the time. When he was a year old a lady working a kiosk at the mall chased us down to give us an oversized fake saphire for him. Not to play with, she just wanted to give him something and that's what she was selling. At grocery stores people around us, whose only knowledge of him comes from being in line with us, buy him candy and then just slip it into our groceries.

 

Between his acting skills and his charms he has become incredibly manipulative. I can never tell if his feelings are really hurt, or if he's faking and goodness knows other adults have NO IDEA. He threw a fit at AWANAs last night, threw a cup, refused to participate, and in the end I got the apology :confused:. The teacher was so upset that Luke had been upset :001_huh:. He did his "I'm a jerk" deal, complete with big tears and she bought it hook-line-and-sinker. I tried to explain to her that Luke is capable of doing that on cue, that she was fine, not to apologize, but to please wait so that I could have Luke apologize for his behavior...

 

She ended up giving him a coloring book and promising to try and make next week more fun.

 

Now, I look like the evilest mother ever, because I stood there and said, "That's enough" to his tears (which cleared up immediately and turned into a scowl).

 

Help.

 

What do I do with this?!? How do I 'fix' it or 'manage' it or channel it into something better than a high fructose diet????

 

Sorry this got so long, I'm at a loss.

 

ETA, I feel bad for all this. He's not a terror or anything. He really is a sweet, smart little guy. It's the craftiness that's killing me.

Edited by lionfamily1999
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I don't have kid like this...but....

 

if I were in your shoes I would have a private conversation with the teacher from last night and tell her what you are up against.

 

Let her know you realize how convincing he is, but you really want him to behave well; you need her on your team so to speak.

 

Let her know that your son is fully capable of behaving and he does this sometimes to manipulate;

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My opinion and take it as you will:

 

Keep up with the, "That's enough!" He will learn after being trained, just as he has trained you before and is currently training his AWANA leader, that certain behaviors are not tolerated nor acceptable. You will also need to train his AWANA leader and others he spends any time with that he pulls a certain stunt and how to handle it.

 

Mommy, he is spirited and trying to assert himself and find his place in the higherarchy of life lol.

 

You are fine mom and don't worry about what other's think of your mothering skills.

 

Heather in MD

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I agree with keeping up the "that's enough". He will learn that he isn't fooling you and soon enough others around you will follow your lead and he will learn that he isn't fooling anyone.

 

It's probably just a "limit testing" phase and he will grow out of it with continued "training" from you.

 

Smart little guy....

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My dd had a habit of manipulating. I started telling people she couldn't have things because she was conning them.

 

The bagger at the grocery store would give her quarters because she would say, loudly, "I WISH I HAD A QUARTER SO I COULD RIDE THE HORSE!!" or other things like that.

 

I wouldn't let him give her a quarter.

 

To me it was like begging.

 

It did take some doing but I did manage to convince people to stop giving her things or letting her have her way all the time.

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I'd discipline (consequence) the "I'm a jerk," or any variation thereof.

Maybe he doesn't get to go to AWANA or the park or the market because he is not able to restrain himself from that behavior.

 

Also a bit of not believing anything he says might come in handy. Think Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. You may have to brush up on you first aid skills to be able to tell a real injury from a fake though.

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Oh, I've run into this one! Anything given to them goes into my hand right away (this is my policy for candy from strangers anyway, and it has expanded to include stickers, toys etc.). I take them away from others with no explanation to deal with attitude etc. On our own, I can do the "that's enough." The "I'm a jerk" thing I deal with as telling a lie because quite simply, it is a lie that he is telling himself. (In our family it was "I'm stupid, the worst person ever. . ." etc.) I assign the apology etc. away from others and then lead him over to the person. I let the child know that when we are with the other person, if there is no apology (because they will often balk once they are with their adoring fans) that they will be removed and it will be dealt with as disobedience at home. I try to remain as calm as I can in all of this because trust me, there's enough drama in the situation for all of us.:glare:

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Thank you so much! The men on my mom's side have this bizarre charm. They can do anything they want. It's really incredible. I look at Luke and worry that he'll ride this wave through life and for some reason it really bothers me. Perhaps, Jean, it's because of the deception.

 

Now, he does not ask for these things. We've finally managed to nix the begging for candy while waiting to check out (by ditching the whole load, repeatedly and going home with nothing, thank goodness for a supportive local grocer). So, begging is not the problem.

 

I did talk to his teacher, but I really think she doesn't believe me. I went over her head and said, "When Luke does this he needs to go to time-out immediately. If you feel like you can't do this, and I understand how hard it can be, please come get me (I'm with an older group). I promise, he will not get spanked. He will just sit quietly until he calms down and is willing to behave." I hope they go along with that, but of course, if they don't it's unlikely I'll ever know about it.

 

I'm just relieved that my little guy is not the only one that does this. My older two are introverts and they are horrible actors (I think :lol:). Luke's ability to manipulate is new to me. It took me awhile to catch on in the first place.

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I'd discipline (consequence) the "I'm a jerk," or any variation thereof.

Maybe he doesn't get to go to AWANA or the park or the market because he is not able to restrain himself from that behavior.

 

Also a bit of not believing anything he says might come in handy. Think Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. You may have to brush up on you first aid skills to be able to tell a real injury from a fake though.

We read the LBWCW... Luke's response was, "They were MEAN for not helping!" He really did not seem to grasp the little boy's fault in the whole thing.

 

I do punish those things at home, so he doesn't do it here so much anymore (oh, it rears its ugly head every once in awhile though). It just never occurred to me that others would be conned by him.

 

:lol: Dh said we have a whole new reason to hs Luke. To protect the innocent teachers and faculty from his winning ways.

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Oh my...I have one of those. It is very, very, very frustrating to deal with. However, there is good news. You have figured him our while he is still little. How I wish I had been more diligent with dd when she was that age.

 

Take this for what its worth...I'm not an expert except for when it comes to dealing with my own actress\master manipulator.

 

My advice, explain to him in words he can understand what manipulation is and how it affects people around them. Keep explaining it to him often. Read him some stories of people who use manipulation to get what they want or to get certain reactions out of people, but ultimately come to a bad end. Role play...you behave in a manipulative way toward him and tell him to tell you how it makes him feel to know that you are using your emotions and behavior to get something from him. Whatever it takes to get him to understand what he is doing.

 

You also need to talk to him about appropriate ways to ask for the things he wants and how to deal with his emotions when things don't go his way. Train him to be okay with not being in control (not getting his way).

 

Adopt a zero tolerance policy on the unwanted behavior...call him on it. When he does it, immediately tell him that he is being manipulative and to try to think of a different way to express what he wants or how he feels. Give him examples if he is at a loss. Don't let him keep anything that he receives through manipulative behavior, but explain to him why he isn't getting it. Don't treat any of this as punishment and don't get emotional toward him...you are just trying to help him kick a really bad habit and teach him alternative coping skills. I would also let anyone who is contact with him on a regular basis know what you are trying to accomplish and ask for their help in breaking him of the habit. Give them a script of what to say, laying the blame on you, if they need it. All family members need to be in on it too.

 

I know it wasn't your intention, but when he was younger and everyone ooed and awed over him when he would fake cry, you were enforcing the fact that he could manipulate with his emotions. It was a game-now its a habit.

 

I've used these techniques with dd and they have made a big difference. It takes time but since your son is so young it may not be as hard as it was with my dd. In the past when things wouldn't go her way she would fall apart; she just couldn't cope. Her way of dealing with it was to use emotional manipulation to turn the tide; to get something out of it, even if it wasn't what she originally wanted. Now, however, she has coping strategies for dealing with her disappointment. She doesn't have to resort to the manipulation for coping.

 

Best wishes.

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I know it wasn't your intention, but when he was younger and everyone ooed and awed over him when he would fake cry, you were enforcing the fact that he could manipulate with his emotions. It was a game-now its a habit.

 

Thank you so much. I have such a hard time dealing with this, because I do worry that one time he really will be upset and I'll end up correcting him when he doesn't need correction. Now that I think about it, though, The Boy Who Cried Wolf is such a good comparison, and I wonder if the loss of a few sheep will wake him up, iykwIm.

 

The first time he fake cried was while my sil was giving birth and we were all hanging around the hospital. My sister had a new video camera and asked Luke to pretend to cry. Eventually she started apologizing and saying it's okay... Then, Luke started laughing. We did it one other time (not really believing the recording) and it was unsettling to say the least :glare:. That's one of those moments that made me question everything.

 

Thank you again. Firm and swift. Stories with consequences. Team building.

 

I feel like there's a chance now :D

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