My 6yr old son is very controlling and manipulating. In school his teacher has commented that he tries to control all the situations in class, as well as, his friends and games they play. He tends to become friends with kids who have learning disabilites or emotional weaker than him to play with. He also refuses to engage with my husband or I unless we do what he wants. He would rather play by himself than do what we want. I am very concerned about him socially and try to expose him to different kids but he gets overly emotional when we try to get him to take turns during play dates. What can I do to get him to stop this controlling behavior?
Well, to be honest---------- this is often a coping mechanism. Being inflexible and rigid is a sign that a child is struggling in some way. My son is very much this way and we are working on it. He has sensory integration disorder which involves the nervous system.
What we do is kind of force the situation at home. He does not always get to pick the game. He must take turns with us. He doesn't get to go first all the time. He has to share. He doesn't get to win. As he has trouble dealing with it, we help him through it. He can get upset with us but overall, it shows him how to be around his peers and at school. So we "practice" so to speak.
We talk a lot about "being a good friend". Read books on being fair from the kids section of your library. Talk about what you can do for your friends and what they can do for you. Make a poster with what you do for friends on one side and what they do for you on the other. Draw pictures or cut things out. (things like, I will listen to my friends talk. My friends will listen to me talk. My friend gets a turn to pick a game. My friends give me a turn to pick a game.)
For a play date. Pick someone that you are friends with the parents and tell them that you are trying to work on this. I have a friend that loves me and my kid no matter what. So that is who I would call to work on being more flexible. They won't walk out and say we are too difficult. They'll just go along with it while we work on it. Know anyone like that?
But you have to set up things at home like a play date for practice. Maybe get out a timer and say that he gets 10 minutes to do his game and you get 10 minutes to do your game. I make my son complete my game even if he does not want to and tries to go storming off. And I act like I'm having a blast the whole time!
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