"Kids don't just resist parents across the board," says Larry Nucci, a research psychologist at the Institute of Human Development at the University of California at Berkeley.
"It isn't the situation where kids are just driven by their impulses, and they simply reject all the rules that parents have."
Nucci believes that if you look closely at which rules children obey and which they reject, there are clear patterns to be found.
Although the study was with elementary school kids parents of adolescents may learn something here.
Rules they listen too:
Moral Rules: Don't hit, do share.
Safety rules: Don't cross the street alone, don't run with scissors.
Social convention: You must say "sir" and "madam."
Rules They Don't Always Listen Too
The gray area is rules kids consider to be their own business and that they consider to be private. These include who they play with, what sport they want to play, clothing they wear, etc.
These are the rules in which the vast majority of conflicts between parents and children occur.
"Kids don't argue at all with parents — or very little argument with parents — when parents come up with reasonable safety rules or rules about not stealing from other children or not hitting other kids," says Nucci. "Virtually all of the conflicts that parents are having with kids are over these personal areas."
For more on this story go to the NPR story at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125302688&sc=nl&cc=hh-20100405
So what's a parent to do? Make sure you clearly explain the reasons why you have certain rules and link them to core issues like those mentioned above. Give a bit on the gray areas - and don't try to control everything your kids do.