Pouting: A Manifestation of Emotional Blackmail by Children

Pouting by children is an action that can cause pity, compassion, or anger. It's one of the most common weapons used by children to get what they want. Recognizing this attitude in time can help parents react in the best way.
Pouting: A Manifestation of Emotional Blackmail by Children

Last update: 11 June, 2018

Pouting is one of the most common actions by children to try to get something they want or when they’re angry. It’s considered a strategy of emotional blackmail used by children.

Since this is one of the phases that every child goes through, it’s essential for parents to know about it and prepare to act in response to it.

Why do children pout?

Tantrums and pouting are strategies used by children to get something they want.

These behaviors are especially frequent in babies and toddlers, because they can’t express themselves adequately and find it difficult to understand even their own feelings.

For this reason, they use these tactics when they feel angry, frustrated, and sad. Other reasons why children pout include the following:

They need attention

Many children throw quiet tantrums through pouting. They do it when they aren’t getting enough attention from their parents.

The pouting increases when the children realize that it isn’t working or they see that their parents are upset by their behavior.

Obviously, this may be a clear warning sign that a child needs quality time with their parents.

Inability to express their feelings

There are children, and even adolescents, who are unable to clearly express what they’re feeling and thus resort to pouting.

This is a common behavior in infants with restrictive and authoritarian parents in order to indicate that they’re unhappy and to try to influence their parents’ behavior.

Blackmail and manipulation of parents

Another reason – and the most common – for which children resort to pouting is simply to try to get a reaction from their parents. Little ones are very intelligent and can quickly learn to detect the weaknesses of their parents or other adults. 

For this reason, they throw tantrums and pout in order to achieve what they want. For example, they might do it to try to get their parents to buy them a new toy or to let them stop eating something they don’t like.

Pouting: A Manifestation of Emotional Blackmail by Children

How to react to pouting as a form of emotional blackmail?

Child psychologists suggest starting by learning to say “no” firmly and explaining your reasons for doing so. In a lot of cases, this could make the situation worse at first. However, it’s essential to ignore the child’s bad behavior.

Once the episode has passed, you should speak softly with your child and explain in simple terms why he or she was wrong. Along these lines, we must also provide our children the necessary tools to learn to manage frustration or disappointment.

Giving in to tantrums or pouting can lead to the creation of blackmailers. Children will continue to resort to manipulation in order to achieve what they want.

You should also avoid resorting to beatings and screaming for punishment, because this only leads children to become aggressive and violent people.

“Pouting can be a manifestation of emotional blackmail by children.”

Recommendations for not giving in to manipulation

A child is a symbol of innocence, kindness and ingenuity. However, with the passage of time, they can become manipulators.

No person is born a blackmailer. This is a skill that is learned through experiences trying to achieve what is desired.

To prevent this behavior from becoming commonplace in your child’s upbringing, consider the following advice:

  • Avoid using blackmail with your child. There are many parents who complain about the use of blackmail by their children when, in fact, this behavior is also used by them to get a reaction from their children. Remember that you’re your child’s role model.
  • Learn to not give in to blackmail. For this, it’s important to learn to control your emotions and to not allow your child to receive what he wants as a result of these actions.
  • You should avoid losing your temper and make an effort to remain calm. This way, your child will understand that he or she won’t be able to influence you emotionally and thus won’t repeat the bad behavior.
Pouting: A Manifestation of Emotional Blackmail by Children

  • Parenting requires discipline and love. The perfect balance of both will guarantee success. For this reason, not giving in to manipulations during your child’s pouting phase is a sign of love.

In conclusion, pouting can be a manifestation of emotional blackmail by children. It’s an attitude that children learn from past experiences and use to try to get what they want or to express frustration or anger.

Understanding the reason behind this behavior can help curb these types of attitudes.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Beyebach, M., & de Vega, M. H. (2013). Cómo criar hijos tiranos: manual de antiayuda para padres de niños y adolescentes. Herder Editorial.
  • Forward, S. (2013). Chantaje emocional. Grijalbo.
  • Sánchez, F. L. (2009). Las emociones en la educación. Ediciones Morata.
  • Shapiro, L. E. (2002). La salud emocional de los niños (Vol. 16). Edaf.
  • Smeke, S. (2009). Alcanzando la inteligencia emocional. Editorial Limusa SA de CV.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.