It’s All Negotiable



How to smooth over negotiations with your teen and their specific color type.


“Mom can I extend my curfew for Sara’s party on Friday night?”

“You mean past midnight? No, you know the rule.”

“But mom, the party doesn’t even start until 8:30!”

“Your curfew is midnight, period.”


Anyone else preparing for this inevitable conversation? Teenagers seem to make pushing boundaries their full time job. First color Oranges have been doing this proficiently for years and their parents are better equipped for teenage negotiation tactics, however parents raising Golds, Blues, and some versions of Greens may find the teen years extremely frustrating as they watch their once compliant child shift into defiance mode.


The desire to push boundaries can be caused by the additional responsibilities teenagers take on during high school. Driving, part time jobs, later curfews, and leadership positions in sports and club activities open the ‘Pandora’s Box’ of autonomy. Teenagers often develop faulty logic such as, “If I can work part time, pay for things myself, maintain my grades, and participate in activities I think I should be able to stay out as late as I want.” As parents, we see the wider view and understand boundaries are a healthy fail safe to balance our teenager’s lack of learning experiences. As our teens try to negotiate around the rules parents need to maintain boundaries which promote family values and protect their child from danger, but it is important for parents to reevaluate the age appropriateness of their rules and allow an expanding circle of freedom around their teen in which they have the potential to fail and gain important learning experience while still under their parent’s supervision.


For example, parents who enforce a midnight curfew on their high school senior up until the day they leave for college are often surprised when three months later their new Freshman is ‘out of control’ and failing their first semester of university. Based on the teenagers personality type there is nothing surprising about this at all! Certain color types learn their most powerful lessons through trial and error. If that teen was completely restricted by rules during high school they likely never had the chance to fail, learn from their failure, and develop smarter practices for their future. Just food for thought.   


Each teen will approach their boundary struggle from their first color’s unique angle. At ColorWorks we assign 3 Words to represent each of the four color types. The 1st Word is their color’s basic need, the 2nd Word is what their color values, and the 3rd Word is their self guidance tool. To better understand why your teen is trying to debate your rules it is helpful to look at their 3 Words like this: their 1st Word initiates the argument, their 2nd Word justifies their negotiations, and their 3rd Word gives you a heads up to how they will approach their argument.


Your Gold teenager is going to push against boundaries if they perceive they should have broader privileges. The changing social structure (Structure/1st Word/basic need) for Golds at this age is huge and they typically take on additional responsibilities and obligations extremely well. They plow forward through challenges with a consistent (Consistency/2nd Word/value), hard work mentality and expect privileges as compensation for their responsible actions, especially when they compare themselves to ‘slackers’ around them. They will approach you with their expectations (Expectations/3rd Word/self guidance) in a list format as proof of their outstanding record. They might list names of friends allowed to stay out late for the party, inform you of their current grades to prove their responsibility, remind you of any recent goals they’ve met, or throw a sibling under the bus to demonstrate their worth in comparison. Remember, Golds are natural judgers who require acknowledgement for their hard work and privileges become the highest form of praise you can offer them during their teen years. If you must tell your Gold no take the time to acknowledge all they do for you, your family and others and let them know they are truly appreciated, even if they don’t get their way this time. It is also important to praise them for their polite request and lack of drama when they are told ‘no’as those two actions show maturity beyond their years.         


If your Blue teenager is negotiating a boundary, especially curfew, it is almost always linked to relationships. Blues are focused on their connections (Connections/1st Word/basic need) more than any other color type. They desire extra time with friends, team mates, and their significant other to communicate (Communication/2nd Word/value) their love and support. When you ‘limit their time’ Blues often do the opposite of their 3rd Word and become dramatic, sulky, or passive aggressive. They are using those negative behaviors to say, “I need you to listen to me and understand me!”(Understanding/3rd Word/self guidance). Therefore, taking the time to communicate with your Blue is essential. When you put your story of ‘no, period’ on hold and truly listen to their story you are actually building trust and meeting your Blue’s needs. Perhaps in this fake scenario involving a friend’s party when you take the time to truly listen you find out that your Blue daughter wants to stay for the entire party because she has a deep, intuitive feeling her Orange best friend is going to make a huge mistake with an older boy. Your daughter feels she needs to be there to keep an eye on her friend and prevent her from getting into trouble. That’s an important back story worth discussing and the opportunity would’ve been missed if your conversation ended with ‘no, period.’    


Your Green teenager will debate your boundaries and rules because they, more than another color type, simply enjoy debating. They will pelt you with information (Information/1st Word/basic need) about why they should be able to stay out late and they will likely present a compelling case. They will point out your lack of logic (Logic/2nd Word/value) by not letting them stay out late for the party since you have broken your curfew rule in the past and allowed them to stay out for other ’special circumstance’ like working, for a sporting event, or for an awards ceremony. Well played Green, well played. Remember, a teenager will see a party as a ‘special circumstance’ and trying to prove that it is not is basically a fool’s errand with a Green teen. Parents do not get caught in the trap of arguing logic with your Green child or teen; logic is based on maturity and learning experiences, without those two factors you are debating against faulty, immature logic and you will never win. If your Green persists with their negotiations you can present logical reasons why they can’t stay out late, using plenty of specific learning experiences (Learning Experiences/3rd Word/self guidance) about how they react when they are overly tired. Then simply walk away from the debate and do not allow them to draw you back in for round two.


And finally, if your are negotiating a boundary with your Orange teenager you are headed down a well traveled path. Oranges have been pushing back against you since they were toddlers. As the parent of an Orange teen you are well aware of their tactics, which actually vary from Orange to Orange and are heavily influenced by their interaction style (introvert/extrovert) and their second color. Basically, all Oranges are fighting for their freedom (Freedom/1st Word/basic need) and they see you restricting their curfew as a huge freedom suck. They view this party (or any time spent having fun with friends) as a reward (Reward/2nd Word/value). The perceived ‘theft’ of their reward will drive them to continue negotiating with you, sometimes to the point of making you snap and give in just to end the discussion. Boundaries (Boundaries/3rd Word/self guidance) are the tool Oranges use to redirect themselves and they perceive them to be highly flexible, grey areas. Therefore, your Orange will spend copious amounts of time trying to get you to see their curfew as flexible, too. The best way I can describe it, as a fellow Orange, is we want parents to set our curfew on a case by case scenario, where the curfew is extended as the possibility for rowdy fun increases. Is that wise council? No. However, it is the honest truth of an extremely rowdy Orange teenager turned responsible adult. One thing I’ve observed is parents often do the opposite, if there is a chance for too much fun (like a party) they ratchet down the boundary and often make it so restrictive that their Orange heads into rebellion. Understanding and acknowledging that your Orange is experiencing a real freedom threat goes a long way towards ending their negotiating and bringing peace back into your family. If you must tell them ‘no’ to an extended curfew take the time to remind them of the fun they can have up until they return home at 10:00 by allowing them to go, even if they have made some questionable choices at parties in the past. Lay down the ground rules, expect that they have learned from their mistakes, but remember they must be allowed to learn within ever expanding boundaries if you plan on them moving out someday and being a successful adult. Additionally, reward them with praise if they arrive home by 10:00 since you understand how tempting it is for them to fall prey to their own perceived grey areas.  


Good luck, and remember I also have a 15 year old so I am right there with you this weekend.  


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