Do children knowingly misbehave and manipulate parents?

Do you ever wonder if your kids plot, plan or simply know how to get their way? I’ve heard many parents say that their children know exactly how to manipulate them to get what they want and that it’s both young children and teens who knowingly and consciously misbehave and choose not to do the right things.

If you’re wondering if your little angel could really be that clever find out what brain science has to say on this topic as I interview my fabulous guest Dawson Church PhD.

Dawson Church PhD has a wealth of knowledge across the areas of health, psychology, neuroscience and spirituality. His principal work is his best-selling book The Genie in Your Genes which reviews the research linking consciousness, emotion, and gene expression.

Listen to the interview here

In this interview you'll learn about how children's brains work - from baby to teenager and how that impacts their behaviour.

Do you have an impulsive 2 year old? Is your teen reckless? In this interview you'll understand why this is and how to support your child's brain development and raise psychologically balanced children.

Here are some of the questions you’ll get answered:

I’ve heard parents say they are concerned that if they respond to their baby’s cries straight away then they will spoil the child. However, brain science and the research on attachment would say otherwise.

Q1 What are your thoughts on why it is or isn’t important to respond to babies cries for our attention? And can we really spoil babies?

When children are young say 2-7 years old, they do all kinds of things that upset their parents like throwing tantrums, drawing on the walls, not sharing, taking things that don’t belong to them, not listening or following instructions… I’m sure you’ve been through this with your children.

Q2 My question is, do children have the brain capacity to knowingly or intentionally do these things that can drive parents wild or is it more impulsive?

I have heard parents say that their young children are deliberately naughty, that they manipulate their parents, that their children know what they are doing and so they should be punished for their bad behaviour.

Q3 Do young children really have the brain capacity to be manipulative and calculating? What are your thoughts about this?

Let’s move away from young children for a moment and look at teenagers.  As a generalisation, teenagers have a bad reputation for being reckless, putting themselves in danger (like drinking and fast driving) and thrill seeking with extreme sports. 

Q4 Is this because their frontal lobe – the thinking and reasoning part of the brain - is not fully developed and they don’t clearly see the potential dangers of their actions to themselves or to others?

This interview was fabulous - I learned so much!

Also, Dawson has also offered a free gift to listeners that you can download at

If you want to know more about how to help your children develop key life skills like good self esteem and you’d like some sound positive parenting advice

Download my free parenting guide at


Have a look at my ebook series where you can teach your child so many key life skills to help them communicate effectively, plan and complete their homework, learn about eating well and exercise, manage set back and bounce back stronger with a positive attitude and so much more – and the skills can be learned in only take 15 minutes at a time! Every parent can find 15 minutes once or twice a week to empower their children! Be a proactive positive parent now and and change your life and your child’s life for the better! 

Life Skills E Books Series

Life Skills E Books Series