Manipulative teens: how parents should respond

Teenagers are naturally well equipped with the art of manipulating their parents to cover their mess and get what they want. However, parents need to be on their guard in order to deal with teenagers’ manipulating ways. Family psychologist David Swanson, psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser, and clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow, agree on the fact that kids manipulate their parents to gain their love and attention, cover their mistakes and get what they want. However, the most important reason, all experts believe, is to feel powerful during their conflict with parents. Here is some expert advice for parents of teenagers, to help them maintain peace of mind and tackle kids at the same time.

Streamrolling as a manipulative tool

Repeatedly asking to do the same thing that the parent has forbidden, will wear down the parent to give in to the teens’ demands. To counter this situation Kaiser recommends parents to come up with a reply and repeat the sentence like a broken record. For example, your teen wants to go out with his friends, but he hasn’t tidied his room; so your statement should be: “You must tidy up your room before going out with friends”. No matter how many times your teen asks, simply reply in the same manner. This makes it difficult for the teen to ignore his responsibility and by pass your authority. how to deal with teenagers' manipulation is a difficult subject, but not an impossible one! 

Lying strategy

Sometimes telling parents half the truth or lying blatantly gets them what they want. For instance, teens will inform their parents they will be going to a particular friend’s place for a sleepover. They will, truthfully, give all the details of their plans, but ‘innocently’ miss out the most important detail that the friend’s parents will not be at home. While parents will be under the assumption that their teens are safe in the supervision of elders, the kids will be having the time of their life. However, on being caught, they can easily tell their parents that they had forgotten about this little detail.

Parents should be extremely vigilant to deal with such precarious situations. Instead of blindly trusting their teens, they should verify the story with their friends and their parents.

Retaliating in anger

Klapow says that when parents forbid their teens from doing something kids, especially teenagers, would react in anger and do the complete opposite of it or do something to annoy their parents in retaliation. In such a situation, parents need to control their outburst and give them a silent treatment. They need to calmly convey to their teen that this kind of behavior is not acceptable. If your child continues to persist then warn him/her about the consequences and act upon them in case the behavior does not change.

Emotionally blackmailing parents

Every parent wants their kid to be happy. That’s what makes it very easy for the kid to emotionally blackmail the parents. “If I don’t wear that dress for my party, my friends will make fun of me” – that said and the parent melts. This one’s the most challenging form of manipulation for the parents to identify and counter. Swanson says that this can also be tackled easily if parents understand that their sole job is not to make their kids happy, but also to  make them learn about the world. If they understand this simple phenomenon, then they will never be emotionally blackmailed at hands of their teens.

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