What to Say When a Child Says, “But Mom Said I Could!”

Nanny Confessions: Don’t Let the Kids Manipulate You

I confess that it annoys me to no end how manipulative kids can be to get what they want. If parents and nannies disagree on child-rearing, kids will easily find a wedge and take advantage of it. In his book How to Say It to Your Kids Dr. Paul Coleman says that while giving in to children’s manipulation is a bad strategy, but so is being rigid and inflexible.

In fact, the more rigid caregivers are, the more likely the children will be manipulative to get what they want. All kids are manipulative, so try not to consider it a character flaw. Many good kids act manipulative for three reasons: because in the past it was rewarded, because parents and nanny don’t agree on rules, or because a parent or nanny has been inflexible about
rules.

What to Say:

  • “This is the first I heard of this. Until I speak to your Mom or Dad I’ll have to say no.”
  • “If you remember, the rule is that I don’t agree to something I’m unsure about until your parents and I have a chance to discuss it.”
  • “I need to think about it first,” or “I need to speak to your friend’s parents first.”
  • “You asked me to think about your request and to talk it over with your Mom. I really like that way of asking me something.”

Dr. Coleman’s List of What Not to Say:

  • “You are being tricky and dishonest. I won’t stand for it!”
  • “It’s fine with me if it’s okay with your Mom.” Use this sparingly since it shows flexibility and laziness.

Whenever possible speak to the parents directly about the request and don’t let the children be the go-between. Messages can be misunderstood.

How to Say It to Your Kids

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