At what age can babies "manipulate" you - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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...and by that I mean at what age could they do things to try and alter your behavior...like think through the following type of thought process:

"I don't want to go to sleep. If I smile at mommy while she's putting me to sleep maybe she'll play with me more."

Andrea...wife, SAHM to 3.5 yo DS and 1 yo DD.

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#2 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 12:41 PM
 
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I think for my daughter is was close to 1. I'm sure every child is different though. They start learning immediately that certain actions get certain responses, but I guess there is a point where they use a certain action to get a NEW response.

Of course thinking back it was all so cute. Especially compared to what I deal with, with her now at 3!
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#3 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 03:14 PM
 
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Well, I think they do it from birth. They use that as a way to communicate. Manipulation isn't inherently 'bad' as we adults seem to think. So, crying is a form of manipulation. A baby is 'manipulating' you to stop what you are doing and feed/change/console them. I suppose it's all in how you view the word? I don't see manipulation as a bad thing all the time at all, so...
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#4 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 03:28 PM
 
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Well, I think they do it from birth. They use that as a way to communicate. Manipulation isn't inherently 'bad' as we adults seem to think. So, crying is a form of manipulation. A baby is 'manipulating' you to stop what you are doing and feed/change/console them. I suppose it's all in how you view the word? I don't see manipulation as a bad thing all the time at all, so...
Yeah. This is exactly what I was just thinking this morning. My grandma is saying stuff like "that kid is so going to play you..." and I'm thinking, WHAT? First of all, I don't mind if a BABY "plays" me. It's how they learn to communicate and learn action/reaction. So it's kind of a PITA for me, so what? As they grow and interact (read: manipulate ), they'll learn other ways to communicate and find out where the limits are.
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#5 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 03:37 PM
 
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I feel like "manipulate" is really problematic language. It suggests a highly combative parent-child relationship.

My one year-old tries to convince me to play at bedtime, but he tries to convince me to play nearly all the time. He likes to play and does not share my opinion that there is a time of day at which he should stop and go to sleep. He likes it when people laugh with him and smile at him, and he will almost always try experiments that he thinks will provoke those reactions.
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#6 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 03:50 PM
 
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I feel like "manipulate" is really problematic language. It suggests a highly combative parent-child relationship.
I have to agree... in regards to sleep, did you mean resist sleep? Cause I think that starts to happen around 9 months or so.
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#7 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 04:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, let me phrase a slightly different question: At what age do needs and wants become separate entities?

Andrea...wife, SAHM to 3.5 yo DS and 1 yo DD.

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#8 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 04:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by DoulaLMT View Post
Ok, let me phrase a slightly different question: At what age do needs and wants become separate entities?
Depends on the needs & wants. I think you just need to listen to your baby, and don't worry so much about what "should" happen when.

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#9 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Depends on the needs & wants. I think you just need to listen to your baby, and don't worry so much about what "should" happen when.
I'm asking not because I want to know if things are happening as they "should" with my child, but because I AM listening to him and I don't understand what he's telling me!

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#10 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 04:47 PM
 
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According to my mother and grandmother, at a family gathering (christmas+grandfather's funeral...) when I was 5 weeks old, I had a mobile hanging over my baby seat, and I would start fussing whenever the music slowed down, and somebody would come and wind it up again, and I'd be happy (I get the idea they'd oblige as often as I wanted). I guess you could call this manipulative, since it wasn't a direct need like feeding, but it was also something I couldn't have done for myself.

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#11 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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nak

my lo now reaches for and tries to grab everything. he wants to play with everything and this is normal. but as far as needs and wants go it seems a good example. he does not need to play with a sharp knife he doesn't know what a sharp knife is but he does want to grab it and stick it in his mouth and will reach for it and cry when he can't have it. i don't think thats at all manipulative though it is just him being a baby and learning about the world.

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#12 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 05:19 PM
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They learn how to 'manipulate' from the moment they're born. Except the word 'manipulate' sucks because it implies a negative connotation, which is stupid. It's not negative...it's healthy attachment and adaptive behavior!
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#13 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 06:47 PM
 
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They learn how to 'manipulate' from the moment they're born. Except the word 'manipulate' sucks because it implies a negative connotation, which is stupid. It's not negative...it's healthy attachment and adaptive behavior!

Ahh...but it implies that because people use it negativly. I always get 'Oh hes just manipulating you' by 'well meaning' parents. What they mean is 'Hes acting in a certain way to get your attention and you shouldnt fall for that because you need to show him who is boss and prevent making a rod for your back'....: ....so I hate the word 'manipulate'...because I honestly have yet to see anyone use it in a positive way! 'Oh hes just manipulating you/me/etc' has never meant (at least in our western world) 'Oh how beautiful! Hes showing a healthy attachment with you through his adaptive behaviour and you are such a good person for responding to his needs'....

Which brings me to my thoughts on this:

Quote:
Ok, let me phrase a slightly different question: At what age do needs and wants become separate entities?
I dont think they do for a long long time. Before reading this post, I was first going to reply by saying 'Babies - can never manipulate' (with 'manipulate meaning the negative word it does mean in our society despite what any dictionary says lol'...But now I will say that 'Babies' do not have wants. I want a bigger house, I want more money, I want some ice cream and a hot chocolate (lol)...but what I need is probably just a nice glass of clean water at the moment. A 'baby' needs everything it is asking for, everything it is manipulating for. A baby does not know one mintue from the next...they dont have un-needed desires. I would say the same for even a toddler. It is crucial for that healthy attachment we are seeking to achieve! And depending on the action, crucial for other very necessary growths as well - be it the need for social interaction, the need to learn about the world around us, the need to feel loved and secure, etc etc becuase none of these things are wants, they are human needs... all babies will show these in different ways from reaching out for that knife or seeming 'soothed' to a certain music...it is still a need for something deeper, but us as adults with more complex feelings and desires (and probably way off the path from what nature intended in our very complex world we lie in) may confuse this with a 'want' for just what we see on the outside. This is probably why the word 'manipulate' has grown to mean such a negative thing.

And that all sounds really deep lol

I am not really sure what you are asking - but it is very frusrating when our children are expressing a need and we cant quite put our finger on it. Even more so distressing for us when that need is expressed through crying because naturally as mothers, we want to be able to meet our childrens needs.

Just remember - we can only try our best. We have to keep listening to our children and just try our best!

Mummy me : > Thats Ann! and my beautiful SONS Duncanand Hamish 19/09/05 & 22/04/10!
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#14 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 06:54 PM
 
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I know what you mean... I think this starts to happen around 6 months old. When they learn that things they do will get "this" reaction from you. My first had me wrapped around her little finger. By the time my other two came along, I had learned better.
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#15 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 06:58 PM
 
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I'm asking not because I want to know if things are happening as they "should" with my child, but because I AM listening to him and I don't understand what he's telling me!
Alright... that's understandable - it is really difficult at times to understand people who are speaking a different language.

But what difference would it make whether a baby wants or needs whatever it is? You just do your best by responding. It wouldn't make a difference to me whether my baby was crying because he didn't WANT to go to bed, or he was crying because he wasn't tired, and thus didn't NEED to go to bed. I'd hold him, talk to him the same way, and try different things until we figured out what he was trying to tell us.

With a baby, to me, it doesn't matter whether it is a want or a need. Know what I mean?

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#16 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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But back to my first example...if I am letting my child get overtired by not catching his sleepiness early enough, then I'm creating more tears than necessary. And also if I think he's tired when he's not and I try to put him to sleep, I also create more tears than necessary. If I know he's capable at 3 months old of trying to persuade me to play when what he really NEEDS is sleep, then I'd be more likely to look for a way to sneak him into sleep earlier, etc.

Andrea...wife, SAHM to 3.5 yo DS and 1 yo DD.

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#17 of 24 Old 04-24-2008, 11:52 PM
 
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If we're having dinner, and I say, "Please pass the salt," and you do it, am I manipulating you?

Yes. I don't NEED the salt, I just WANT it. And since I can't reach it, I am relying on you to provide it for me. I certainly hope you will be kind enough to pass it to me, especially since it doesn't take a lot of effort or sacrifice on your part.

Humans are social animals. We do actions in order to provoke reactions from other humans all the time. That's how a social network works. That is the definition of manipulation. There is no point in resenting a person (baby, toddler, whatever) for asking to have his needs met -- and among perfectly reasonable human needs are companionship, love, teaching, etc.

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#18 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 12:21 AM
 
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I think around 4-6 months. I could definitely tell a difference when my dd started wanting things. But I think every want is also some sort of need.

example. DD got a hold of a napkin the other day. I took it away from her because I didn't want her swallowing paper, and she started crying. Did she NEED to play with a napkin. NO, she wanted to. But, she probably did NEED something to occupy her rather than just staring around. (we were in the car riding home)

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#19 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 02:01 AM
 
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I dont think they do for a long long time. Before reading this post, I was first going to reply by saying 'Babies - can never manipulate' (with 'manipulate meaning the negative word it does mean in our society despite what any dictionary says lol'...But now I will say that 'Babies' do not have wants. I want a bigger house, I want more money, I want some ice cream and a hot chocolate (lol)...but what I need is probably just a nice glass of clean water at the moment. A 'baby' needs everything it is asking for, everything it is manipulating for. A baby does not know one mintue from the next...they dont have un-needed desires. I would say the same for even a toddler. It is crucial for that healthy attachment we are seeking to achieve! And depending on the action, crucial for other very necessary growths as well - be it the need for social interaction, the need to learn about the world around us, the need to feel loved and secure, etc etc becuase none of these things are wants, they are human needs... all babies will show these in different ways from reaching out for that knife or seeming 'soothed' to a certain music...it is still a need for something deeper, but us as adults with more complex feelings and desires (and probably way off the path from what nature intended in our very complex world we lie in) may confuse this with a 'want' for just what we see on the outside. This is probably why the word 'manipulate' has grown to mean such a negative thing.

Well put! I totally agree with everything you said. If anyone is interested in the psychology of this, you can read Bowlby, Ainsworth and Winnicott...
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#20 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 03:29 AM
 
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wow ann that was beautiful and so true

mama to two amazing children son 10/27/07 and daughter 07/07/11

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#21 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 10:23 AM
 
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My DH interprets EVERY communication as an attempt at coercion.

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#22 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 12:44 PM
 
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I know exactly what you mean, Andrea, and I'm trying to figure out the same thing. In no way do I believe that my eleven week old son is even capable of trying to play me for a sucker, but there's got to be a point where what he wants isn't good for him.

I do believe that sometimes, he thinks he wants to sit in the bright living room and look at all the colors and faces, when really what he needs is sleep. And he's not getting enough sleep because of my failing to read the situation. He doesn't rub his eyes, or get droopy looking, or anything obvious, and if I put him down on the bed or into the carrier he raises hell... but on days where he doesn't get any nap type sleep, the evenings are rough.

I think the napkin example was a really good one. No, the baby didn't need the napkin, but the baby needed something to handle. Now, if I can just translate that insight into the sleep thing.

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#23 of 24 Old 04-25-2008, 01:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jillian+1 View Post
Yes. I don't NEED the salt, I just WANT it.
Maybe not the best example, because we do NEED salt to live. You're asking for it because your food doesn't taste salted enough, and with rare exceptions we should eat our food salted to taste for optimal health. Now of course, you could get up and get it yourself, or you could ask for the pepper, and I don't think anyone NEEDS peppery food to survive.
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#24 of 24 Old 04-28-2008, 03:10 PM
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Now of course, you could get up and get it yourself, or you could ask for the pepper, and I don't think anyone NEEDS peppery food to survive.
Says you!!!
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