Dealing with a Manipulative Teen
Teenage manipulation is also a form of bullying.
Parenting teens is challenging today, dealing with an manipulative teenager can be extremely frustrating and draining. Not only are young people capable of bullying their friends, but many teens also bully their parents. A manipulative teenager can make you feel helpless and insecure about your parenting.
To keep everyone emotionally healthy, it’s crucial to identify this behavior and deal with it before it impacts your parenting and family.
5 Ways Your Teen Manipulates You
1. Emotional Blackmail. Teenagers often need and want things from their parents, and they may use your feelings to control your behavior. For example, a teenager may emotionally blackmail you by acting sad or withholding affection until they get their way.
2. Anger and explosive behavior. They may throw things, get into a heated argument with you, or scream – hoping this will change your mind. The behavior is similar to throwing a tantrum on a bigger scale. Teen aggression is common when teens don’t get their own way.
3. The guilt-trip. When your teen says things to you like “you love my sister more than you love me,” they usually don’t mean it. Teens use guilt-tripping as a way to manipulate you. In extreme cases, they will threaten to commit suicide if they don’t have their way.
4. Planned out lying. Teens can manipulate your through lies. They will promise to do something you want them to do if you allow them to do what they want. For example if you allow them to go to the mall for extra time, they will promise to do extra chores. When you allow them, they forget their promise.
5. Broken record. There’s nothing like breaking a parent down when your teen uses repetition to wear you down and make you give in. To break this habit, stand firm in your decision. Be prepared, come up with a reply and repeat it every time the situation demands it.
3 Ways to Deal With Teen Manipulation
No one enjoys dealing with teen manipulation. If you’re a parent going through this you’re probably feeling angry, sad, confused, or even betrayed. It’s always helpful to talk to your spouse, partner, friend or even a therapist to sort out your feelings in addressing these behaviors in your teen.
It can be tricky to crack down on your teen’s manipulative behavior because you want them to be happy. Nevertheless, sometimes it’s crucial to put your foot down and lay the rules down. Here are some that could be useful:
1. Set Boundaries
Like with smartphone contracts, young people want boundaries. It’s important to be clear and concise on your house rules (boundaries) and what your expectations are, as well as what their consequences will be.
It’s common for teens to test boundaries to see where there’s room to expand or break them. Intervening immediately is often the most effective approach:
- Communicate the boundaries again.
- Discuss the wrongdoing or disrespectful behaviors.
- Enforce the consequences.
Clear communication is often beneficial in setting rules, as well as respecting your teen’s personal boundaries.
2. Consistence Consequences
If your teen is constantly manipulating you or lying to you, they need to know it’s not acceptable and won’t be tolerated. It’s important to be calm, but firm and clear with communication about their behavior and the consequences. It’s always helpful to talk to your spouse, partner, friend or even a therapist to sort out your feelings in addressing these behaviors in your teen.
Not enforcing the consequences you’ve laid out may encourage manipulative behavior, so it’s important to consistently follow through. Not addressing manipulative behavior in teens can encourage a pattern that may impact their future adult relationships.
3. Parent and Teen Relationship
Manipulative behavior isn’t usually something (most) teenagers intentionally engage in. They use it because (at that moment) they feel it’s the only way to get their needs met.
If you begin to create a positive, healthy relationship with your teenager — they will be able to speak more freely about their needs and feelings. It’s likely you will see an improvement in their behavior.
Actions speak louder than words is also true in strengthening relationships with your teenager. Here are some ways you can start building your bond:
- Make time to have coffee or lunch together
- Check in with each other regularly
- Be respectful of boundaries and of each other
- Find volunteer work together
- Cook meals together
Working on positive reinforcement and a healthy relationship is much easier and more effective than punishing negative behavior.
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