Manipulating teens

If you’ve never raised a teenager, you can probably stop reading now. If you have, you too probably got a chuckle out of this research in the news today:

If you want your overweight teenagers to slim down, whatever you do, don’t tell them to go on a diet. That most likely will make matters worse, according to a new study published today.

In short, it’s a technique that seems certain to backfire, said Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a professor of epidemiology at the university and the lead author of the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Now, for those of you who haven’t raised teenagers who are still reading this, here’s the news-you-can-use message: teenagers don’t listen to their parents. Usually by the time the kid gets to be a teenager, parents have caught on to this and the smart ones know how to manipulate them.

Mrs. News Cut, for example, had a perfect way to get the kids in my house to eat healthier. She didn’t put a tub of grapes in front of them and say, “here, eat this. It’s good for you.” She simply left a bowl of grapes on the counter, knowing that it took 4 more steps and several calories to get to the potato chips. Teens will always take the path of least resistance. “Give me those grapes!”

Survivors of Teen Years (SOTYs): Send your proven methods for teen manipulation here.

Get rid of the new stud through his/her eyelid. "That’s really cool. I’m getting one, too." (Note: Be prepared to follow through on this, Spike.
Turn down the music. Play the same music in another room. Louder. When he/she comes out of the room. Start dancing the way you did in high school when you thought you were cool, but still couldn’t get a date.
Stop eating so much junk food. Stop buying so much junkfood.
Get more exercise. Buy a Wii. (Hey, it’s a start. ) Put the Guitar Hero disk near the grapes.

No one said this would be easy. Be very careful in this process. As good as you may think you are at manipulating teens, they come preprogrammed to be better at it.

  • GregS

    This is from a short story I posted on

    A Nudge

    My ex-wife waged endless war over the mess in our kid’s bedrooms.

    She was a master of command and control who viewed every tiff over cleaning as the final battle of Armageddon. The kids felt much the same, countering with guerrilla tactics. They did as they pleased and only withdrew when confronted by superior forces. As for me, I had no desire to enter into an un-winnable test of wills.

    My son sleep on sheets patterned with camouflage, my daughter snoozed on designs more floral.

    I switched their sheets.

    Then I made it clear that until the rooms were cleaned and remained so, the bedding arrangement would also remain.

    Immediately the kids made their beds. After all – their friends spent time in their rooms and nothing is more motivating for a preteen than a snarky peer. From there it was not much of leap to solve the incongruity between a made bed and a messy floor.

  • Joel

    So, how do you get your wife to pick up and put away her clothes?

  • Bob Collins

    //So, how do you get your wife to pick up and put away her clothes?

    Wash a few…in hot… so they shrink.

    Or wash ’em with the pinks.

  • Joel

    I did that once (on accident) all it got me was an excuse not to wash her clothes any more…it did nothing to solve the (clean) clothes that’s strewn all about in the bedroom.

  • GregS

    The secret to a happy marriage is realize before you are married that you can select a mate but you cannot train one.

    Get it right in the selection department…and the rest is a breeze.

    If you don’t – suck it up because you blew your chance..