Adolescents are good manipulators for many reasons. They want attention. They want love. They also want to protect themselves when they have done something wrong. According to psychologist and author David Swanson, adolescents want to figure out the consequences of their actions. So, they do things to see what kind of reaction they will get from them.
What Happens When You’re on the Outside Looking In
By the time children enter adolescence, they have identified which parent is easier to manipulate. For you, this may be your spouse. Standing back and seeing how your teen is manipulating your spouse can be frustrating. You hate to see how your teenager can get away with so much simply because he is working your spouse in a certain way.
Some of the ways you can help get the manipulation under control are:
Your spouse doesn’t want to hear that he or she isn’t parenting correctly. This will only lead him or her to be defensive. They best way to approach is to have a discussion about it with your spouse. Starting a discussion with something like, “What do you think we should do about Johnny’s behavior lately?” By bringing it up, you can come up with a plan that your spouse can implement the next time your teen manipulates.
It’s also important to communicate with one another when your teen comes to each of you with a question. Some kids will go to one parent and ask a question, if the answer is not what he or she wants to hear, the other parent is asked. Coming to an agreement that the second parent goes along with whatever the first parent says can be a good way to stop this type of manipulation.
Focus on the Manipulator
Since it can be difficult to not offend your spouse when it comes to parenting decisions, it may be better to focus on the manipulator. Your teen knows what he or she is doing, and you do too, so coming face to face about it can help.
Listen to your teen, but don’t give in when he or she asks for things that are unacceptable. Instead of having you or your spouse handle problems, help your teen solve his or her own problems. This may mean providing advice and then taking a step back. This can be extremely hard, but life’s lessons are learned by experiencing them.
The best thing you can do as parents is to discuss decisions together and then stand your ground against your teenager’s manipulation. As much as it may hurt when your teen spews hatred at both of you, it will be well worth it when the manipulation stops.