The facilitation of children’s emotional intelligence (EI) through social and emotional learning (SEL) and wider pastoral support schemes is common practice in schools. Although the benefits of enhanced EI have been widely reported, little is known about its ‘dark side’: emotional manipulation, or how this may manifest in school settings. Focus group and individual interview data gathered from staff members working across case study schools located in a town in the North West of England inform the points raised in this paper. The article explores the extent to which emotional manipulation takes place in the strategies and forms of support utilised by schools to enhance children’s social, emotional and behavioural skills. The ramifications of emotionally manipulative behaviours are discussed and recommendations for future directives are made.