Almost all teens try to manipulate their parents at one time or another. If a teen begins to use this tactic on us and we allow ourselves to be manipulated, they will quickly learn that it is an effective way to control us and to get their desired outcome. This will lead to a continuous power struggle between us and them.
Learn how your teens may try to manipulate you so you can be aware and ready to stop this behavior before it becomes a destructive habit in your child’s life.
1. The Guilt Trip
A guilt trip is a common thing that teens will use to manipulate their parents. Not all children will start their phrase with “If you love me…” but that is the general sentiment in this form of manipulation. Your teen may appeal to your emotions and strong love for them in order to get a desired outcome. For example, your teen may insinuate that if you really cared, you would buy them this piece of expensive clothing or let them go on the trip they asked about.
2. Through Parents’ Priorities
Another way a teen may try and manipulate their parents is to appeal to them in the area they see their parents placing their priorities. For example, if you as a parent value education and your child wants a new iPod, they may try to convince you that having a new iPod will allow them to listen to music that will help them do their homework better.
3. Using Bad Behavior
Although you may assume your child will outgrow the use of bad behavior as manipulation by the time they reach their teens, you could be wrong. Although most teens will not launch into a full-fledged tantrum, they may use moodiness and anger to guide your response to one they approve of. This method can go downhill very quickly.
Some teens, upon being told “no”, will proceed to pout or talk back to their parents. This is done in the hopes that it will make their parents uncomfortable to the point that they may change their minds. Unfortunately, some parents reward this behavior by actually changing their decision, which often makes teens ramp up the drama next time they want their parents to give in to them.
4. Survival Instinct
The next tactic of a manipulative teen may not stem from bad intentions, but from a desire to “cover their butt.” If your teen just accidentally destroyed your vehicle in a collision, you can expect a barrage of kindness from him. This is because teens have a natural survival instinct, and your teen instinctively knows that the better he treats you after he messed up, the more likely you will lessen his consequences.
One of the most obvious forms of manipulation is lying. A teen may lie because he feels that it will be quicker to get what he wants when the facts are slightly skewed or altogether wrong. By changing what you perceive to be the facts surrounding a situation, he feels he can change the outcome of your decision. When you as the parent consistently confront lies after you realize them, and give consequences, your child will eventually realize they will be found out.
Manipulation can take many forms, especially when it comes from teens. By becoming wise to the more common methods of it, you can be sure to confront and help your child change this behavior.