It’s no secret that things start to change when our children hit their teen years.

The dance that we choreographed together begins to shift. They no longer want to be a partner in that dance. They want a new dance and insist that they are now ready to take the lead. But it always seems to catch us a little off guard the first time we stop and wonder if our once innocent little children would actually use manipulation tactics to ensure they are indeed leading the dance.

It couldn’t be possible, could it

Surely, this wasn’t intentional

Would they really go to these lengths to gain control? 

As hard as it is to believe, the answer is yes. Yes, friends, our teens will use manipulation in an effort to experience more control over their life.


We often view manipulation as a dirty word, but let’s look at it for what it truly is. Manipulation is someone attempting to shape your emotions and actions to get what they want. Teenagers commonly use this tactic to try and change your internal state in order to achieve what they desire.

Let’s take a look at some of the more common manipulative tactics teen use:

  • Lying or exaggerating. 
  • Trying to control others. 
  • Playing the victim. 
  • Threatening or intimidating others
  • Blaming others for their problems
  • Using guilt or shame to get what they want
  • Expressing love, affection, or pleasing to soften our hearts

Being able to step back and look at the bigger picture can be helpful when dealing with manipulation because, truthfully, it’s hard not to get angry when you know your child is intentionally trying to stir things up.

The number one reason your child has resorted to manipulative tactics is that they lack the skills and influence to persuade you legitimately.

It’s not personal you are just the obstacle standing between them & what they want

Here are some tips for dealing with manipulative teen behavior:

Set clear boundaries and expectations.

  1. Be consistent with your discipline.
  2. Go back and read the second one again. Consistency is huge!
  3. Don’t give in to demands or threats.
  4. Don’t take things personally. It’s important to remember that your teen’s behavior is not a reflection of you as a parent. They are just trying to figure out the world and their place in it.
  5. Stay calm. It can be difficult to stay calm when your teen is being manipulative, but it’s important to try. If you get angry, it will only make the situation worse. Staying calm keeps the focus on their behavior and off yours.
  6. Take a break. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, taking a break from dealing with your teen is okay. Go for a walk, listen to music, or do something else that will help you relax.


Learn more by checking out Episode 29 of our podcast, A Look at Teen Behaviors: Manipulation.

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