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How to Say "No" to Children and Teens

Saying “no” to your child isn't easy. “Everybody else is doing it, why can’t I?” they cry. How can you have the boundary for “no means no” without being the “bad guy”?

When saying "no" to your kids, remember that an explanation is definitely required, and your answer ought to be in line with your other behaviors. Whenever your adolescent asks why she can’t go to the party, tell her the truth. “I know when I was your age, I went to an event where there was lots of alcohol drinking, and I told my mom there was no alcohol there.”

Experience demonstrates to your children that you DO understand, as long as you inform them about the consequences. “I came home drunk and threw up all night, and it really wasn’t worth it.” For younger children, make certain your explanation is within the realm of their comprehension - they usually don’t possess reasoning skills yet, so an answer of “because you might get hurt” will do until they are old enough to understand.

For older children, always pay attention to their side of the disagreement. “Listening” means:
  • keeping quiet while your youngster states what he needs to state
  • maintaining eye-to-eye contact
  • providing positive facial expressions
  • sitting close

Acknowledge why you are saying “no” and what he might be able to do to get a “yes” from you the next time, or at what age you feel their request is appropriate, and why. You might be amazed at your kid's understanding and maturation. Treating him with respect teaches him respect.

To ensure you aren't viewed as simply the “bad guy,” make certain your relationship is open and make yourself available. Few parents today invest actual time with their kids, and this lack of quality time can be the source of teenage anxiety and rebellion!

Motivate your kids by spending quantity and quality time with them. Motivate them not to take themselves so seriously. Lighten up. Have family fun, chuckle, tease, and act silly. When you are both their mentor and their mother or father, you are able to set healthy limits with your kids, and as a result, they’ll feel that your relationship is based on trust and honesty, not “yes” and “no’s”.

Whenever a youngster is disciplined successfully, it gives her a real sense of security in the world that you might not realize as you cope with the guilt of having to put a sad face on your sweet little girl. Kids who are not allowed to "run the show" possess a sense of knowing they're cared for and that absolutely nothing bad is going to be permitted to happen to them, despite the fact that they might still do bad things every once in awhile.

Kids with inadequate discipline are often scared by the sense of control they have over the world. Though it may seem hard to believe, kids don't want to be the ones in control …the world is a frightening place to them, and they need their mothers and fathers to guide them and be their inner strength and security.

=> My Out-of-Control Teen: Help for Parents


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Hutton

I wonder if you will be able to help us. My grandson, Jay, who is 14, 15 in January, has just been expelled from school. He is about to enter his GCSE year and this could have a devastating effect on his future. There is a history of instability in the home and his stepfather sees authoritarian methods as more important than being a friend and ally although he does try it doesn't come naturally to him.

Jay has a younger brother and sister and my daughter works hard to bring in money but although she tries to stay in control there are times when she loses her temper and then the fights get physical and Jay punches his little brother. Last week his stepfather came in from work in the middle of a fight and grabbed Jay and head-butted him.

I'm deeply worried for Jay and my daughter is at her wits end.

I found your website when I googled 'children who get expelled from school'.

Look forward to hearing from you


Anita Marshall said...

hi Mark

I joined your website and program a bit over a month ago and have been implementing some of your ideas and they are helping. I am still a stressed out lunatic but I feel like I am not alone now -haaa.

Anyway, this weeks newsletter is very relevant to my situation at the moment. My son Blake is 14 and a lot of his friends are going to night time parties in the park and drinking. I wont let Blake go and he thinks I am the strictest parent in the world. His argument is quite valid and it is "mum - im telling you the truth about what I want to do - I want to go to the party, have a few drinks but not get drunk, you will know exactly where I will be and can ring me at any time at all. Would you rather that or that i have lied to you and stayed at a mates house where the parents would have let us go but lied to you about what we were doing".

I can see his point but I am just not comfortable with teenagers at this age drinking in the park. We live in Australia and the legal drinking age is 18.

What advice do you suggest I come back to him with?

Anita Marshall

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