Do you find yourself butting heads with your teenager more frequently than when they were pre-teens? Are you avoiding conflict and feel like you walk on eggshells around them? Knowing how to say no to your teen without feeling guilty will help you feel confident and connected in your relationship.
How To Say No To Your Teen Without Feeling Guilty
If you are wondering what happened to your sweet pre-teen, keep in mind that part of being a teenager is the need to test boundaries. Consider it their job. Teens are learning about themselves as individuals and are also learning how to become adults. As the parent, you get to be the instructor. One of your main jobs as the teacher will be establishing boundaries, sticking to them, and keeping a healthy style of communication. To do that you need to know how to say no to your teen in a manner that creates a win-win situation for both of you. Here’s a great book that aims to bring out the best in both parents and their kids Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child.
Why Is My Teenager Testing Me?
Not only do teens have the ultimate gift of pushing every single one of their parents’ buttons, but they also seem to find new ones! Sometimes it’s not just a gentle push of the button, either. You will be tested. This is normal. It is a natural part of teen development to establish independence from their family group.
Every time they ask you a question, roll their eyes, push back at your advice or come for an unexpected hug – this is a test. With your answers, you are teaching them patience, maturity, and communication. It is up to you to make sure this communication remains calm and connected. You have the unparalleled opportunity to pass on lessons you have learned in your own life. Cherish this time even when it is hard.
How Do Hormones Affect My Teen?
Along with the social expectations to seek independence, teenagers have loads of hormones raging through their bloodstreams. Do you remember what it felt like to be an angsty teen? Insecurities, self-doubt, and decreasing confidence levels are prevalent. Then, to top it all off, your teen’s body is rebelling against them, too.
This influx of hormones can lead to some major mood swings, increased isolation, random bouts of giddiness, and other inconsistent emotions. It might feel like you are living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – and it might change at any minute!
Just remember the connection with your teen is always the most important thing. Spend time doing things they enjoy doing. Show genuine interest in what they are passionate about. No matter the mood swing or erratic behavior, love them unconditionally.
How Do I Keep My Cool?
When it hits the fan – and it will – remember you are the adult. It is your job to be calm, reasonable, and logical in times of conflict. How do you expect your teen, with their developing brain, to be calm and in control of their emotions when you can’t control your own?
To keep your composure, you will need to take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Pay attention to your nutrition and exercise. Use coping skills to reduce your own stress (this is a great modeling opportunity for your teens, by the way!). This will help you maintain a clear mind when you have challenges with your teen. It will also help you find creative ways to say no to your teenager without feeling guilty and preserving your relationship.
Your teen knows exactly what buttons to push so when you respond with calmness, instead of outrage, you are teaching them a valuable lesson. They are learning from you how to stay level-headed even in times of conflict. There are times when even us moms need a time out.
Create Win-Win Situations With Your Teen
So how do you say no to your teen without guilt? Interact with your teenager as a real person. Spend time with them doing things they like to do. Focus on creating strong connections. When they feel supported and loved by you, they are more likely to help you find a feasible solution to disagreements.
For example, if your teen wants a curfew of midnight and you said 11 – how do you solve that problem? Ask your teen questions. Is this just a one-time change to the curfew? Who will they be with? What will they be doing? What is the safety plan if they get into a bad situation?
Talk frequently with your teen about the need for trust. You need to trust them and they need to trust you. Are you doing the things you said you would do? Are you a good role model for your teen in the trust department?
If you have worked hard on establishing a connection with your teen, and they feel loved and supported by you, they are more likely to arrive at reasonable solutions. They will work with you rather than against you.
You are the parent and ultimately will have the final say. If you feel your teen is entering into dangerous situations, it is necessary to give a hard no. Although teens are asserting their independence, they still like the structure of knowing your limits. It creates a sense of security.
What Are the Best Consequences for My Teen?
Your teen will make mistakes. This is also normal and requires keeping a level head. If you have decided upon consequences when trust or agreements are broken, then it is important you follow through on it. Sometimes the natural consequences are the best teacher. For example, if your teen gets a speeding ticket they will need to take care of it themselves. If your teen breaks curfew, they might need to miss their next night out or have an early curfew.
Discussing consequences beforehand will also make it easier when saying no to your teen.
Being a Teenager is a Training Ground
As adults, we have learned the lessons over and over that we don’t get to do everything we want. We know life isn’t always fair. We know we have to show up for things even when we don’t want to.
This stage of adolescence is a training ground. We have to learn how to say no to our teens without feeling guilty because we are their best teachers. It is up to you as the parent to pass on these lessons. We can do hard things and so can they – even when we don’t want to or when we don’t think it is fair.
Being consistent and calm is essential to providing structure and boundaries. Remember they are dealing with emotional changes, social changes, and hormones. Be a firm, gentle and loving presence in their lives so they always know where they fit in.
Having a parent enforce rules can actually be a relief as it gives your teen a sense of stability.
Benefits of Healthy Communication With your Teen
There will be times when tearing your hair out seems more appealing than one more argument with your teen. If you put in the work to build connections, to stay calm in conflict, and to stay consistent with boundaries then you will gain the reward of having a healthy, secure, and independent teenager.
You will be able to develop a true friendship with your child as they leave adolescence and enter adulthood. There is no replacement in the world for feeling secure. When you learn how to say no to your teen without guilt and learn how to put your connections at the forefront, you will give this wonderful gift to your child.
Keep Going, Mamas
The relationship with your teen will undoubtedly have its highs and lows, its complications and drama. Your stability and steady demeanor throughout these times will help your teen grow into a mature and independent adult.
Love your babies unconditionally, mamas. Life can be messy, but there is nothing you can’t get through if you stick together.