One strategy that we found helpful with a child who was/is highly manipulative of others (going along with MoN's statements about channeling the force for GOOD) is in simply pointing out the ways in which such manipulation might be hurtful, exploitative, or damaging.
With an empathetic child, it's often enough to do that.
We do NOT intervene much in her 'steering' for social reasons; her empathy and judgment mostly do that for us now.
I set about teaching her to channel it for good. Lots and lots of discussions about how to use your strong emotions in a positive way. And lots of time outs "until you can talk to me about what your motivation really was". She is now a good advocate, a leader, and highly competitive. She also makes herself artificial goals to self manipulate--If I finish my math, I get an m and m. And she has no patience for social games. She sees right through them and calls kids on it-- so queen bee type girls hate her.
Yes, yes, yes!! My DD isn't competitive or highly assertive, but she has quiet/strong leadership skills. As parents, we often have an advantage that most adults do not-- we know on a gut-level what is up with something, or know when our kids are not being truthful. I always
know, even if I don't choose to act on the information. This has, over time, made DD more open/honest with me about this.
At first, I'm not even sure if she was all that self-aware. I used to really wonder.
I'm also astonished by the peeing on the floor. OMG. My DD did this!! She peed on the sofa and then laughed at me and told me to CLEAN IT UP ( the rush of manipulation, clearly, but she needed me busy to allow her time to ferret something out... she was 2.5 and it was just before Christmas). With Dad, it was about public spectacle and guilt-- she triumphantly screeched at him "You MADE ME PEE ON THE FLOOR!!" in a store after refusing to go use the restroom... she got what she wanted (he stated that he'd NEVER take her on another errand). That was so successful, by the way, that she tried it with me about three weeks later... as she drew breath to bellow, I quietly told her that I was disappointed in her
for not telling me that she needed to go. Then, while she was still a little off-balance, she got to apologize for making a mess, and explain "what happened" to a store employee. After all, what if someone SLIPPED on that wet spot and were hurt? I also damped down my own embarrassment (significant, as you might imagine), and calmly explained that I
wasn't going to be the one apologizing for something I
didn't do. It wasn't my apology to make. I also calmly paid for our purchases as usual while she stood there in wet clothing. By forcing her to face the consequences in human terms, I nipped it in the bud, I think. She was three; the poor man at the store was obviously horrified that I was so cruel to my sweet little girl... but then again, he didn't know her the way I did. I knew
it was calculated. Her attitude confirmed it.
Just funny that someone else had this same experience with urination as a locus of control/manipulation. Wow.
If she is nurtured, I bet you'll see the defenses start to come down.
I think this is a great observation. I agree. To work at guiding this particular gift (because it CAN be a gift) requires removing such a child from crisis mode so that they can
control the behavior. Obviously, they still do things that will require some correction, but "reactionary" is not the way to handle them. This is something that my DH is still learning, by the way. Preemptive, mindful prevention and open conversation saves SO much heartache.