Talk to your teen and open the lines of communication.

How Do Parents Persuade Teenagers?

by Erica Loop

If you think that barking orders or telling your teen to do something is an effective way to communicate with her, you might want to reconsider your talking tactics. Persuading teenagers to listen to you, behave in a certain manner or do specific tasks may at times seem like a Herculean effort. While it might seem daunting, you can use strategies such as negotiation and modeling to get your teen to listen to you.


According to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, negotiating with your teen includes coming to compromises and problem solving together as a team. While your increasingly independent teen may balk at the idea of obeying your orders, negotiating an answer to a tough situation or a task-related issue may seem permissible to him. Instead of always using your authority to persuade your teen to listen to you or act on your demands, work together to come up with a cooperative answer. For example, if your teen wants to stay out all night with his friends after his junior prom -- and you feel that he isn't mature enough for this -- persuade him to come home earlier by negotiating an alternative solution with him, such as having his friends come home with him for a supervised after-prom party.


If you expect your teen to act a certain way or engage in specific behaviors, turn yourself into a role model for her. Although your teen now has the ability to think and act independently, chances are that she will still look to you for cues when it comes to appropriate behaviors. Acting the way that you want your child to act will encourage appropriate behavior. For example, if your teen immediately bursts into tears followed by a shrieking scream-fest every time that she doesn't get her way, take the time to show her how to behave in a more socially and emotionally acceptable way through your own actions. Point out a time when you don't get your way -- such as when you let dad watch the ball game instead of you getting to watch your favorite night-time soap -- and model an appropriate way to handle the situation. The more that your teen sees the positive ways that you act, the more likely it is that you can convince her to follow suit.


Whether you are devising a cooperative solution to a problem or going through the various pros and cons of your child's seemingly outlandish requests, discussion is one way that you can persuade him to follow your directives. Before launching into a lecture-like diatribe on what you want your teen to do and why, start your talk by asking him what he thinks about the situation. Even if you do not intend to let him negotiate an alternative, a calm discussion can make your teen more likely to see your point of view. Avoid a one-way conversation by allowing your teen to talk and get his point of view in too. If you feel that his logic is faulty, constructively point out where it fails and help him to understand your line of thinking.

Pick Your Battles

Daily struggles with your teen about what she wears to school or who her friends are can quickly fray both of your nerves. Child development experts on the KidsHealth website suggest that parents pick their battles when it comes to persuading teens and conflicts. Aside from the truly intolerable issues -- such as drug, alcohol or tobacco use -- provide your teen with some leeway to do what she wants at times. Your teen is more likely to listen to you if you aren't always saying no to everything. For example, if she wants to use a temporary dye on her hair to color it bright red, let her take this fashion risk without putting your foot down. While you might think that she looks silly, you'll find it more difficult to persuade her to follow your orders if you won't let her make her own mistakes sometimes.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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