How to Negotiate Rules with Teens

Updated at: Feb 02, 2013
How to Negotiate Rules with Teens

With minds of their own, children entering their teens wish to become independent by deciding on what they want to do in their lives.

Pratima Sharma
Tips for ParentWritten by: Pratima SharmaPublished at: Feb 02, 2013

Mother talking to daughter

Adolescence is a critical stage involving a host of physical and emotional changes in teenagers. With developing minds of their own, children entering their teens wish to become independent by deciding on what they want to do in their lives. In such a delicate scenario, it becomes quite a challenge for parents to impose rules on teenagers.


A study conducted by Penn State University on teenage phenomena and rebellion revealed a few alarming facts. Often parents are wary of driving their teenage kids into outright rebellion, and therefore do not set any rules. Kids, on the other side, perceive the absence of rules as a sign of uncaring attitude on the part of parents. Thus, the key to dealing correctly with teenagers lies in negotiation.


Psychiatrist, Dr. Arti Anand concurs, “Negotiation allows you to settle potential conflicts into a win-win solution for everyone. Parents should be aware that there is more to rules than just strict adherence and enforcement. Good parenting requires a sensitive approach.”


Mrs. Goswami was having a tough time dealing with her headstrong teenage son. Once she decided to replace ultimatums like "You can't do that," with "Would you be willing to do this?" she noticed a world of difference. She soon realized that an open and honest communication was the basis of good parenting. Some other important considerations while negotiating with teenagers are:

•    Be a Good Listener:  Do not impose rules on your kids. For once listen to them. Later you’ll realise that you are more open to negotiating with your kids than resorting to caning your child. Set clear negotiation rules: While setting rules, be clear about which rules cannot be negotiated at all and which ones allow some scope. For instance, rules regarding studies, alcohol consumption, reckless driving, sexual activity, drugs are non-negotiable whereas rules on allowance, curfew, sleep-time and house chores can be open for consideration.

•    Explain the reasons behind the rules: Talk candidly about the reasons behind the rules. By doing so, you will be able to encourage cooperation and increase mutual understanding. Reason out your worries with them as this will make them think about their actions.

•    Avoid  giving lectures: Lectures don’t go down well with teens. Instead, make two-way requests such as, "I’ll agree to what you want, but this is what I expect in return."

•    Respect their opinions: Whenever they wish to alter rules, ask for reasonable explanations. Once they try to express their opinion, they will know for themselves whether their arguments are plausible or not. Dr Anand adds, “Teens who come up with reasonable arguments about why they think the rules should be changed will develop good judgment alongside.”

•    Cite consequences: Talk with clarity about the possible consequences of actions in advance. Substantiate your advice by stating valid facts but avoid a threatening tone. By quoting current and past occurrences, explain them why they need to be responsible for their actions at this stage of adulthood.

By negotiating effectively with teenagers, you can avert possible rebuttal from their side and steer them in the right direction to become responsible citizens as well as well-rounded individuals.


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