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Top Three Ways Teens Manipulate Parents: Part III
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Friday, January 23, 2009

Guilting the parent. This is the third of five parts:

Last week we talked about lying and gave several examples of how to deal with it. This week we talk about the manipulative techniques of guilting the parent.

It may be helpful to point out the ideas in this article or at least to point out the three most effective techniques that teens use to manipulate parents. After the teen admits to doing all three, you now have laid the groundwork for pointing out to them, by number, when they are doing this to you. For example, when you are confronting your teen about their behavior they may try to guilt you this way:

Teen: You know what bugs me about you?
Parent: What?
Teen: You only see the bad things I do; you never see the good things.
Parent: You know what I think?
Teen: What?
Parent: That sounds like the other day when we were talking about the Three Most Effective Ways That Teens Manipulate Parents, remember?
Teen: Yeah.
Parent: Remember, you said that you use all three sometimes?
Teen: Yeah.
Parent: Well, let me ask you, which one of the three do you think you might be using on me now?
Teen: None
Parent: Well, I feel like you are using one of them, can you guess which one I'm thinking of?
Teen: No.
Parent: The second most effective way. Do you remember what that was?
Teen: Guilt
Parent: Right! You remembered! That's great for me to hear that you really do pay attention and remember what we talked about. Yeah, you are so right! I feel like you are trying to guilt me into feeling bad that I never point out any of the good things you do! Right now I feel that way.
Teen: Well I'm not.
Parent: OK, well we have twenty dollars unaccounted for and I'm concerned about that so you are hearing some things you don't like today. But what about the day before yesterday when I told you how impressed I am that you started interviewing for a job? And how proud I told you I was when you brought that grade up in math? Remember? Yeah, today is not the day when you get to hear all about the good stuff, but I am impressed that you are not flipping out or anything when I question you about your money- that is good, now back to the money thing [and in this way you pointed out the manipulative tactic and brought the conversation right back to the real concern.]

In other word, pay attention to the fact that the teen is using guilt to manipulate you. Label it. Let them know it doesn’t change the price of tea in china!

At some point, we begin to trust; however, this happens only with the passing of some time and with us beginning to see that our teen is turning the corner. Remember, the third most effective technique for teens to manipulate is doing the right thing temporarily, so that one can get privileges back. Then back to business as usual. In fact, often you can see teens start with the lie, move to guilting, and when neither works, claim to be turning over a new leaf. Of course, number three is much better than numbers one and two so long as we parents realize that this might just be temporary. Let’s don’t jump to the conclusion right away that they have made significant changes.

However, they may have learned that their two most effective techniques just aren’t that effective anymore. That’s a step in the right direction.

(This is the third of a four-part series on Parent Manipulation. Next we discuss more about the third most effective manipulative technique-doing the right thing temporarily, so that one can get privileges back. You can find the complete series and more information at http://gopsst.org )

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