Do your children ever give you what are commonly known as guilt trips? Guilt trips are a form of emotional manipulation that people use to try to make someone feel bad about not conforming to their wishes. Guilt trips are commonly used in family and other relationships, but they are destructive and a wrong way of communicating. What can you do if your child tries to lay a guilt trip on you?
Be Direct and Call Them Out
When your child attempts a guilt trip, as they may do, confront them with what they are doing. Sometimes our kids are purposely attempting one, and sometimes they are just mirroring others who have tried it on them. In any case, call them out and name it for them.
Tell them that what they are doing is using a guilt trip on you. Let them know in a non-accusing way that it is a form of emotional manipulation. Tell them that it is not an effective means of communication, and not a good way to build a relationship.
Teach Them the Proper Way
When your child has thrown you a guilt trip and you have gently confronted what is happening, it is now the time to teach them a better way to communicate. It does not need to be a complicated concept. It can be as easy as saying “Let’s stop, rewind, and try this again.”
You can verbally share with them a better way to phrase their request or desire. Teach them to communicate about what is important to them, and how to respond when your answer does not make them happy. Talk to them about an acceptable way to ask you to reconsider your decision. This leads to maturity in their communication and prepares them for the future.
When you are confronting your child’s guilt trip and teaching them a better way, be sure to do it in a kind way. This is the proper way to show them you love them despite your disagreement. It is also a way to be a good role model to them, and to be the person you are hoping they will become. When you respond with kindness, even when emotionally manipulated, this gives them a valuable lesson in both forgiveness and tact.
Stop Using Guilt Trips on Your Children
Perhaps the number one way to combat your children’s guilt trips is to quit giving guilt trips to your children. Children are the best imitators, and if guilt trips are the control tactic you tend to revert to, they will one day be used on you. If you want your child to communicate in a healthy fashion, you must make the choice to be the role model for them in that area. This means no guilt trips, and being open instead about your wishes without using emotional manipulation.
Guilt trips are an ineffective form of communication. Not only that, but they are one of the most destructive things you could do to your family. Almost all children will try to use them at one point or another so you need to be aware of what to do when it happens. Make a note of some different methods on how to stop a guilt trip when your child begins one, and teach them a better way.