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Running the Monday Marathon…Who’s the powerful child in your family?


There’s always that one kid.


The kid who won’t stay in his seat at the restaurant. The girl who has to have the last word. And the boy who’s always screaming in the Target. That’s a powerful child at work.


And maybe he’s yours.


These powerful children are master manipulators and expert attention-getters! They love to be in control of the household power source—you.


So how can you tell if you’ve got a powerful master-manipulator on your hands? Here’s just a few ways you can spot the powerful child in your family. Every family’s got one and sometimes it’s not who you think.


1. Does your child love to battle with you? 


Is your kid stubborn beyond reason? Do they fight you at every turn? With powerful stubborn manipulators, every comment can turn into an argument. These kids have a need to be right!


2.  Is he or she overly sensitive?


Does your family feel like they have to walk on eggshells around that one son or daughter? We can often find ourselves sticking up for these children, saying “Oh, Fletcher is just so sensitive!” Don’t be fooled. These kids are workin’ ya!


3. Does it seem as if your child has developed a frightening new personality?


Was your child once an easy-going cooperative kid who you were proud to call your own? But now that she’s hit puberty, has she developed a personality close to that of a werewolf? These moody curveball kids can really throw you for a loop!


4. Do you feel like you’re always asking questions but never getting answers?


Powerful children aren’t always the loud obnoxious kid in the Target. Children can manipulate through silence too, and we can be suckers for the shy kid. We’ll ask him question after question, but he’ll only respond with a shrug or an “I dunno know.”


Next Steps? Check your reaction!


Chances are, if you have a powerful child, you’re having a powerful reaction. Your heart may pound, your stomach churn, and maybe you can picture more arguments than not with that child. Or perhaps you’ve gone out of your way to placate her.


Powerful manipulators come in a variety of packages. And they can leave us pulling our hair out at night! But having a powerful child isn’t all bad. It simply means that the power needs to be redirected, and you (yes, you!), dear parent, can be a circuit breaker on that power. All behavior is learned, and your child is looking to you to set the example. Don’t teach your powerful child to walk all over you with permissive parenting, and don’t fight power with power. It takes two to do battle, so disengage!


So next time Johnny says, “Hey, let me borrow the car so I can drive to the football game,” after he’s mouthed-off to you all night, don’t play the typical permissive or authoritarian parent. Don’t let him off the hook with a simple, “Well, alright. But don’t stay out too late!” And don’t give him the “Are you kidding me?! You’re not going anywhere for a month with a tone like that!”


Be authoritative. Stay calm. Control your power surges. Instead, calmly say something like, “Maybe I would consider letting you borrow the car, but I don’t like the way you’ve treated me tonight.” This puts the ball back in Johnny’s court and it’s up to him to decide whether he’ll abide by the rules. He may whine and complain at first, but he’ll come around if he wants those keys!


Parenting is never easy, but it is simple. Stay consistent, stay calm, and redirect those power surges! Your powerful child can become a powerful force for good. 


For more information on redirecting your powerful child, check out my new book Parenting Your Powerful Child. If you’ve got a powerful kid, it’s a book you can’t afford to miss!


  • Heather Bailey says:

    I just started reading “parenting a powerful child” and it has already been helpful. I’ve read other books by you (and others), looking for help with my oldest. There is one specific issue I’m really struggling with – he smears poop. Usually on his floor and bed, but we’ve found it elsewhere. It’s gross and unhealthy. I’ve tried lots of reactions and consequences. Usually I have him clean it up and then also clean up his room and we talk about hygiene, germs, etc. Just this morning, I found some on his bed. He cleaned his room, we had our discussion and he asked me to put signs in his room to remind him. I really need help with this. Please!

  • Laura says:

    I got your new book as soon as I found out about it. Great! My husband is reading it now. Our 3-year old son (he is the second, we have another son who is 5) is a force to be reckoned with. He is cute and sweet when he wants to be, but when he decides he isn’t happy, well, you’d better watch out. Although I liked your book, I found it dealt more with older children. For instance, I can’t take driving privileges away from my 3-year-old. Do you have anything else to say about what can be done to tame this little one before he gets to be a powerful teenager?

  • Helen Naum says:

    I want to follow responses on this post.