Does it sometimes feel like your teenager is making you doubt yourself, doubt the things you’ve said, and even feel confused about what you have or haven’t said? If you’re confused just by trying to figure it out, there are good odds that your teenager is gaslighting you.
Do you know what gaslighting is? In recent years the term has picked up more traction as awareness has grown. In short, gaslighting is the term used to describe a person’s actions when trying to control those around them by trying to twist and confuse their sense of reality.
Gaslighting is quite often seen in abusive relationships. You may not feel like your teen is abusive, at least not physically. But mental and emotional abuse is also very harmful.
Does your teen try to convince you that you’re too sensitive? Does he tell you that you’re crazy or that he didn’t do the things that you know he did? Learning the best ways to handle this can help you start to repair your relationship with your teen.
How do you deal with a gaslighting teenager?
Now that you’ve recognized that your teenager is gaslighting you, what should your next steps be? How do you handle a teenager who is gaslighting you? It can be challenging to connect with the idea that your teen is manipulating you, but you must try to address it as soon as you are able. Learning the best ways to deal with your teen’s gaslighting behavior can help you, and your teen work together better. We’ve got a few tips to help you better cope.
- Keep calm when you interact with your teen. It’s understandable if you get upset and even angry when trying to speak with your teen. Staying calm or taking a breather to calm yourself can help to keep an already tense situation from escalating.
- Make sure that you are prioritizing your mental wellness. When you are being gaslit, it can be easy to find yourself struggling and doubting. Therapy can help you feel mentally strong and sure of yourself.
- Get support from family and friends who can provide a shoulder, an ear, and the other types of support that you will need as you struggle with your teen. If nothing else, your support network can help to keep you grounded when you doubt yourself.
- Help the other members of your family who may also be struggling with the gaslighting behavior that your teen is exhibiting. Helping them to work through their own struggles is an integral part of dealing with the larger gaslighting issue.
As you tackle the gaslighting issues, remind yourself that gaslighting will often leave you doubting the things you’ve said and done. This is why it’s so vital that you have support from those around you.
Is it normal for teenagers to gaslight?
Gaslighting is a type of manipulation. While not all teenagers will manipulate their parents, it is relatively common. Teens may try to play their parents against each other to get their way. They could emotionally blackmail parents until they get what they want. Or they may explode with anger and other strong emotions when faced with conflict.
While the behavior may not be entirely unexpected from a teenager, it doesn’t mean you need to accept the behavior as a phase. If the behavior isn’t addressed, it will only escalate. It will also begin to impact your teen’s relationships with friends and other members of the family.
How do I stop my child from gaslighting?
You could tell your teenager to stop gaslighting you in a perfect world. He would stop, and your relationship would improve in leaps and bounds. In reality, it’s going to be a process that takes a bit of time.
- Your teen will need therapy. Getting your teen to a therapist can help determine what might be behind the behavior. It could be a long process, and you may need to find a therapist with experience working with adolescents and gaslighting.
- Set healthy boundaries with your teen. Sometimes the best way to deal with your teen is to address his gaslighting behavior directly. Make it clear what the expectations are regarding his behavior, and let your teen know what behaviors and actions are unacceptable in your family.
- Communicate with your teen and consistently enforce the established consequences that follow your teen not following the rules you set.
- Manipulation and gaslighting occur with teens, but it’s not considered the norm. Some tend to turn to this behavior because they don’t know how else to meet their needs. Spend some time with your teen, perhaps in family therapy sessions, trying to get to the root cause of the behavior.
What are the traits of a gaslighter?
Is your teen the only one in your life who is gaslighting you? With some familiarity with what gaslighting looks like, you may be able to recognize some of the traits in other people in your life.
- Refusal to consider your concerns or thoughts. Often with a dismissive attitude when you express them.
- Restructuring of things that happened in the past so that you are being blamed for them.
- Rarely admitting to their flaws, faults, or roles in things that happened.
- Frequently exaggerating or telling outright lies often confuses the people around them.
- Firmly insisting that you did or said things that you know you didn’t.
- Mocking or laughing at you when you try to tell the truth as you remember it.
- Telling others, perhaps other family members or friends, that your state of mind or behavior is off kilter.
- Constantly breaking the rules and violating boundaries.
- Trying to control and manipulate everyone around them, including parents, siblings, and friends.
If you are struggling with a teen gaslighting you and other family members, it might be time to get more help. Outpatient therapy can prove beneficial in many cases. But in some situations, more intense solutions are needed.
Do you feel your family could benefit from mental wellness services? Perhaps you’re considering a therapeutic boarding school for your teen? At HelpYourTeenNow, we can connect parents with the right type of resources to help address the unique needs of each family.
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