Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Select An Article

This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

Font Size

6 Ways Your Teen Is Playing You

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

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.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd