What Do Your Teens Know About You That You Need to Know About Yourself?

Are you ever surprised by just how adeptly your teen manipulates you? They have had 13 plus years to learn your strategies, emotional and psychological make up, and what “pushes your buttons.” If anyone can figure out how to manipulate you, it is your adolescent.

Teens learn strategies through your reactions to their behavior. If they begin to notice that under certain circumstances or by acting a specific way they can get what they want, they can adeptly capitalize on this fact.

Below are some of your “buttons” that your teen may have learned to push to get what they want.


You feel guilty because you work long hours and don’t have as much time as you’d like with your teen. You start to do things for your teen that aren’t in his or her best interest, but at least make you feel a little better about not having time for them.

Your teen begins to notice that if they “push” your guilt button they can get permission to do and get what they want.

Trade off

Your teen knows what kinds of behaviors and choices really bug you. They might offer you the “lesser of two evils” to get you to give them what they want. This might be done in a very skillful way. For example, “I don’t hang around with those Smith kids next door. They drink at parties and I saw one of them smoking cigarettes. I’d much rather go hear music with my friends from the school band who care about the music and not the partying.” The next thing you know you are being pressured into letting them go to a rave you don’t like the sounds of. They argue a bit, then seem to give in. “Ok, mom, I understand. At least I won’t have anything to do Friday night. The Smith kids next door are having a party that night and I’ll go there instead.” Yikes! Aren’t those the kids who drink and smoke? Maybe I should let him go with the good kids to the rave!


Teens can wear down even the toughest parent. They also get to know after a while when you are most likely to buckle under pressure. You have to work all weekend, you just found out you have to re-roof your house, and your car is acting up. You are at your limit with stress, so the last thing you want is a battle with your teen.