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6 Ways Your Teen Is Playing You

How to stop the manipulation and rebuild your relationship with your teen.
(continued)

4. Emotional Blackmail continued...

The world is not just about being happy, Klapow says. "It's your job as a parent to help your teen learn. It's OK for your child to be sad when his behavior impacts the way he lives in the world or the lives of others."

Focus on what you're asking your child to do while ignoring the emotions. If he tells you you're ruining his life by making him do homework before he can go to a party, Swanson suggests saying to your teen: "I understand that you think I'm ruining your life because you have to do your homework, but you still need to do it before you can go out."

Swanson says that if you can consistently keep your poise, over time your child will stop using emotional blackmail as a form of manipulation.

5. Shutting Down

What parents haven't seen their teen quiet, sullen, and refusing to talk? Kids use shutting down and not responding as a strategy, Swanson says, because they think it will make your request magically go away.

You can let your child know that although she may choose not to speak to you, she isn't invisible.

To combat this frustrating form of manipulation, establish a schedule around enjoyable activities, such as video games or computer time, and limit them -- one hour each night is reasonable. Let your child know that only after homework has been completed can she log on and that every time you have to ask her more than twice to do her homework, she'll lose 10 minutes on the computer. That's when your teen's refusal to respond to you starts to work against her, not for her.

But it's important to tune in to the reasons why kids aren't talking, Klapow says. "Is it manipulation or something overwhelming? Recognize that there are situations when a child needs to process information and that she may need more time."

If your child is upset about something, acknowledge that and let him know you are there to talk even if it's three days from now.

6. Creating Doubt

Have you ever heard this one from your teen? "I'll be an outcast if you don't let me buy those jeans."

Parents shudder at the thought of inadvertently placing their child in some kind of social or other peer peril. Kids know this and may use it to turn up the volume on their parents' anxiety.

Become a detective, Klapow says. "Look at the truthfulness of the statement. Be a rational observer. Is that true? How true is it?" Ask your child to help you understand why he would get beat up if you don't let him wear a certain hat and then respond accordingly. Your teen may actually have a good point. "It's not all manipulation," Klapow says.

But if you find that your teen is using this method to play you and get what she wants, lay down the law. Let your child know that attempting to manipulate you in this way is totally unacceptable and deliver a consequence.

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