A Deeper Look at Personality Styles in Parenting...


Happy familyRecently, I talked with John, a very frustrated dad. He described a recurring incident with his six-year-old son, Aaron, that just made him want to climb the walls.

This particular afternoon, Aaron and his friend, Suzanne, were playing at her house. When Suzanne’s dad came home, he told the kids that he’d take them to McDonalds. Aaron's mom, Rachel, said she couldn't go. Since everybody involved knew that Aaron wouldn't go without one of his parents that meant he’d have to ask his dad.

Although Aaron is only six, he already understands that he can get pretty much whatever he wants from his mom or dad if he just uses some of his favorite manipulations. He started crying on the walk across the street.

John heard Aaron’s wailing before the front door opened. Aaron ran into the living room and threw himself on the floor. John asked Aaron twice, what was wrong. At that point Rachel mentioned the invitation.

John said: "Aaron, talk to me." Aaron cried harder. John told him to ask or they wouldn't go anywhere. Aaron hushed himself to a snuffle but wouldn’t talk. The stalemate continued until finally, John said, “Okay, Buddy, we can go.”


What’s Wrong With This Scene?


Aaron got exactly what he wanted using manipulation: the crying. Or, put differently, even though Aaron’s behavior wasn’t responsible, he had the power over his dad. John not only did all the talking but he even reinforced Aaron’s manipulative behavior by “giving in.”

Look at the process between John, Rachel and Aaron.

  1. Aaron created an unnecessary scene that made everyone uncomfortable, including Suzanne and her dad.
  2. John tried questioning, coaxing and, finally, threatening Aaron.
  3. Aaron ignored him.
  4. In the end, John, not wanting to disappoint his son, assured Aaron that, yes, they could go to McDonald's. ** John is a really Pleasing parent.

Both parents realize that the way they're behaving isn't helping Aaron to develop cooperation and responsibility; they admit to being confused. They give in because they don't know what else to do. Aaron is indeed a powerful kid; he has trained his parents to serve him.



John and Rachel need to understand their son better. They both feel a lot of anxiety when Aaron cries or screams or throws himself on the floor or runs away. But eventually, they feel impatient, frustrated and angry. Nothing they try “works.” Why?

  1. They both think if they talk to Aaron and explain what they expect, that will “work.” No! Aaron already knows what his parents want; they’ve each told him many times in many different situations. Aaron doesn’t care about what they want; he’s focused on getting what he wants.
  2. Aaron gets a feeling of power when he "wins." And, Aaron knows (senses) UNconsciously that his parents want to be generous and give him what he wants. They love him and want him to be happy. So, he just has to "hold out" long enough to get it.

How do these parents turn this situation around? John and Rachel:

  1. must step back and stop talking. Aaron already knows how he should ask. He doesn't need teaching.
  2. stand firm and calm when Aaron tries his variety of manipulative behaviors,
  3. refuse to acknowledge his tantrums. In others words, refuse to "pay off" any manipulative behaviors,
  4. embrace the idea of consequences. Give Aaron the choice of a time-out chair or his room until he decides to do the right thing.
  5. learn to say "No" in a friendly but firm way and mean it.

It's true that most people, not only children but also adults, will stop behavior that isn't rewarded. They reason, usually UNconsciously, that if what they’re doing isn't getting results, it isn't worth the effort. Aaron's a smart kid, as most are, and will eventually see that he gets more "goodies" when he behaves appropriately. Or, at least he gets fewer uncomfortable consequences. Then, John and Rachel can reward "good" behavior. The household won’t be in chaos as it is now.

Parents, don't be discouraged if this takes a while. If you do it in a confident, "take charge" but calm, kind and friendly way, your child will eventually come along. Just keep your eyes on the end goal: cooperation and peaceful relationships.

Big Thoughts In This Article.


  1. Parents, when children manipulate, they generally either want Attention or Power, sometimes both. Decide to deal with that desire instead of whatever they're asking to do or asking to get out of. Don't give attention; back out of power struggles.
  2. Speak less. Chances are very high that your child already knows what you want. You've probably said it over and over..
  3. Understand that children are very clever and persistent about getting their way. Don't respond.
  4. When you give consequences, give choices. That gives the child power to decide what his consequence will be. It shows respect and fairness.
  5. Stick to it. It should work over time.



All the best until next time,



Thanks so much for reading. And, if you think anyone you know would like this article, please forward it.

Author's Bio: 

Joan Chamberlain is an author, therapist, and life coach with over 30 years of experience helping adults, couples, and teens. She has a Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance, a Bachelor's in education, and a Masters in individuals, couples, and family counseling. Her book, Smart Relationships, has helped many people achieve the self-awareness needed to see themselves honestly. Its wisdom has helped them work toward improving their relationships with themselves, their friends, and their families.

To learn more about the ideas and concepts presented in her articles, please browse her website: