Your manipulative teenager understands how to push your buttons. This youngster knows what he or she wants from you, and how to get it.

Teens master the art of manipulation quickly, and you’ll become wrapped around their little fingers if you’re not quick enough to realize that they’ve taken advantage of you. So how would you know if they are trying to get the best of you?  And what can you, as a hassled parent, do about it?

Why do teenagers manipulate their parents?

The reasons teenagers have for trying to manage their parents are many. Many want to gather love and attention. Others hoodwink their parents to save their skins and absolve themselves of wrongdoing. Some do so to ease their frustrations.

Many of these youngsters do it to feel powerful. As varied as the reasons are, they share one commonality – you must counteract them for your peace of mind.

What are the signs of a manipulative teenager?

1. Guilt-Tripping

When someone is on a guilt trip, he has a feeling of responsibility induced by someone else. The angst is often undeserved. Perpetrators make Victims of guilt-tripping feel terrible, then allow them to absolve themselves of guilt.

Teenagers are masters at making their parents feel guilty of shortchanging them. They often say things like “You didn’t come to my recital last week,’ or “You love Tom (little brother) more than me.” They’ll then ask their parents for a new mobile phone, knowing that they will feel awful for not spending enough time with them.

2. Pitting one parent against the other

Teenagers are experts at spotting behavioral inconsistencies. They know which parent is likely to relax controls and accede to their requests. Supposing they want to go to a party. To get permission from their stricter father, they will tell him “mum would allow us to go.”

If you think that having two strict parents fazes them, think again. Teens pit their parents against other parents. They’ll compare their parents to others. They’ll say, “Michael’s dad lets him stay out late.”

3. Rebellion and Passive-Aggressiveness

Your teen may retaliate against your attempts to control their behavior with passive aggression. They will refuse to speak to you and become sullen when asked to do chores. The response is their ‘revenge’ for not getting their way.

4. Anger and Impulsiveness

Oh, how we dislike those temper tantrums, and you should. They are how your teenager tries to manipulate you into doing his or her bidding. According to this study, more than 6 million teens in the United States live with explosive anger. You may find your teen getting into arguments with you or worse, throwing things your way.

How to stop your teenager from manipulating you

No one likes being at the whims of others, least of all our children. So how do you prevent the manipulation?

1. Identify manipulative behaviors

Recognize manipulative conduct before it starts to affect you. The list above is revealing. Apart from recognizing these behaviors, understand your triggers. If you are susceptible to emotional blackmail or guilt-tripping, ask yourself if your children should be happy when they have done something they shouldn’t. Don’t take the bait.



Also, don’t take your teenager’s words personally. Respond with, “I know you think that it’s not fair, but you’ll soon see why it is. I need you to go to bed, or you won’t be able to get up tomorrow.“ List your child’s behaviors and prepare responses for them.

2.  Stand by your parenting principles

The purpose of manipulative behavior is to create self-doubt. Your teenager wants you to be as insecure about your control as possible. Stay true to your parenting principles and hold your ground. Don’t let emotions rule you. Guide your children with sound, reasonable rules. Of course, this means that you’ll have to discuss them beforehand.

3. Listen

Your manipulative teenager has interests and desires, and it’s wrong to curb them. That said, he or she must learn to get them honestly, directly and in a more effective way than by shutting down or exploding.

Encourage your child to be honest about his or her needs. They may learn to say, “I can’t go to bed that early because I want to finish what I started on the computer.” You’ll pave the way for a successful compromise.

4. Have faith in your child

Believe in your manipulative teenager and yourself. You haven’t raised a teenager without principles and values. If your child decides to stay out late, trust that he or she will be responsible. Manipulative as your teenager is, he or she doesn’t have the intention to make you feel miserable. Children start to see the goodness within themselves when you trust them.

5. Calm Down

Don’t let your teenager’s behavior stress you. If you need them to be happy all the time and validate you for being a good parent, then, you may be giving in to their manipulations. Also, there will come the point when children need to manage their lives themselves.



As rebellious as they may seem, they don’t want their parents to let them develop a weak character. What they want instead is guidance. In all, your teenager may try to manipulate you, but trust, patience, mutual respect, and compromise will prevent this behavior.

Michelle Liew, B.A.

Copyright © 2014-2020 Life Advancer. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint, contact us.

Sign up to our list of over 10,000 subscribers and get life-advancing updates to your inbox!

*We respect your privacy and promise we will never spam you with unwanted emails.