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Best ways To Negotiate With Your Teenager


Teenagers can be a bit tough to manage. Not only are they striving for independence and dealing with surging hormone levels, but they also spend their days right now alone and isolated, yet still with social pressure that would send any adult to an asylum.


As they try to push us away and grasp for more independence, we find it hard to give them that space when the teen years can be a time of experiments and sometimes poor choices. So we are on a direct line to clash! Maybe you’ve successfully maintained the authority to lay down the law or maybe you haven’t. Either way, negotiating with your teen can be a super successful option if you’re prepared and patient.


Ideally, we would let go of the reins some, and help our kids become independent, encourage that need. But some parents believe they should have the only voice on all matters. However, if that’s not working out well, its ime to consider a different strategy. Hold some space for your teen, be flexible and give negotiating a try.

Create greater harmony at home with these negotiation tips:

  1. Make a list of the things you want to negotiate. Each negotiation is a little different. While a set of skills and strategies makes for a good starting point, the details can vary. A few areas you might want to negotiate include:

  • Chores

  • Schoolwork / Grades

  • Allowance

  • Curfew

  • Dating

  • Friends

  • Social events

2 Understand the why. What’s behind your kid’s behavior? Your teenager might e want to have his own car, but why? Is it the pride of owning a car? Independence? The unlimited use of transportation? Do all of his friends have cars?

  • What need is he trying to meet? Figure that out and then, together, you can find a way to address that need.

  • Listening skills are important when negotiating. Stop talking long enough to find out what’s going on and what your child desires. Try some active listening here—as a general question and then really listen to what they say and what the don’t say. Sometimes more can be learned in their avoidance of a subject.

  • Listen hard, validate their thoughts or feelings and then respond. Reacting quickly is not going to help here.

3. Many times, the best deals require both sides to give up something. Rarely in life does anyone get all that they want. Being a parent doesn’t change that. By this time your teen is their own person and you should be still guiding but having inflexible rules will lead to animosity and separation. So look for the middle ground and be prepared to give a little. Also expect your teen to give a little, too.

4. Be respectful to each other. You might think that you don’t have to be respectful to your child if you don’t feel like it, but that belief contributes to many challenges. People are much more likely to give you what you want if you show them respect.

  • People remember how you made them feel. This includes your children.

  • You’ve raised good kids, let them show you that.

5. At the same time, there are things that are non-negotiable. You might never consider allowing your 15-year old daughter to date a 23-year old. And you probably won’t let your 17-year-old son go to Bangkok with his friends for two weeks.

  • Safety is critical and is usually what drives non-negotiable rules

  • Let your teen know upfront those things that are non-negotiable

6. Ensure that the final arrangement is clear to both parties. Ambiguity and vagueness lead to challenges down the road.

Have set consequences for the rules so you take the emotion and escalation out of the equation when the rule is broken.


Parenting teens can be tough but it can also be some of the best years. It’s wonderful to hear your kids talk about what they want and why. The teen years can be a wonderful time of connection if you're open to adapting. So put your negotiating skills to work with your child—it’s not that different than being able to collaborate or merge in your work. See if the same skills can be successful for you at home.

Negotiations don’t have to be a formal, sit-down, type of event. Casual negotiations happen all of the time. For example, maybe your teen promised to wash the car today but was just invited to go to the lake with his best friend’s family. You might reach an agreement that he’ll wash the car on Sunday morning before doing anything else that day. That gives them room but really makes no difference to you driving the car.

There’s nothing like a good win-win!

© 2023 by Dana Baker, Parenting in Real Life