What To Do When Your Defiant Teen Plays “Let’s Make A Deal”


As many parents of defiant teens have discovered, "Let's Make A Deal" is a popular game that teens play to manipulate parents. The prize for winning this game: the teenager gets to have his/her choice in important matters.

The parent says, “You need to finish your homework before you leave to go to your friend’s house.” The teenager responds, “If you let me go now, I’ll do my homework as soon as I get back. I have to go now!”

If the parent persists, the teenager will continue to try to “make a deal” (e.g., “I’ll do half of my homework now… I’ll only be over at my friend’s for ½ hour, and then I’ll come back and finish my homework”).

Defiant teens who are trying to make deals with parents are really saying, “I want to feel like I have control over what I’m doing and when I’m doing it.” If the parent interprets that sentiment out loud and points out that they do have control, teens often will comply.

For example, the parent can say, “You want to feel like you have control about the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of your choices? You do have control! No one can make you do anything you don’t want to – including homework. It’s your choice. You don’t want to do your homework? Fine. Then you don’t go to your friend’s house. You DO your homework – then you can leave. It’s totally up to you. You choose!”

Discipline for Defiant Teens: Parenting Course

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