Say NO to teenagers: how to handle their provocations

Say no It is one of the great skills we have to teach our children, especially because it is difficult and necessary. Just remember some stiuaciones in which in the end we have not dared. However, all parents would like our children to learn to say NO in many situations that they will have to live.

The objective of say no is to learn the self-control necessary to say NO to themselves in the future. It's about helping that brain to anticipate the risks to know how to manage them, for example, say no to a drug consumption.

When and how do we say "NO"

Conflicts at the time of saying NO arise because:


- Avoid saying NO: especially when you think that the reaction of the other will be negative, and keep the NO going to be very emotionally expensive.

- It says NO, but then it's yes: When the incoherence appears, it lies and with that we generate insecurity and more conflict.

- It is said NO, but with a lot of emotional alteration: When fear or guilt arises when saying NO, there is no emotional control.

Common mistakes when we say NO

- When it says NO in situations that adults are not in control: new conflicts appear, lies, blackmail, manipulations ...

- Say too many NO.


- Give excessive explanations and justifications to convince why it is said NO.

How to say NO to children?

To say NO it is necessary that parents know how to exercise authority, with empathy. That does not mean being authoritarian but being the holder of the authority when it is understood as won and legitimate, that is, based on merit and personal prestige, which is earned by the way of helping and treating others.

On the other hand, parents have to know how to show empathy with their children, they have to see that they put themselves in their place showing understanding and responding to their needs and interests.

Therefore, the empathic authority necessary for parents to say NO consists of the legitimate power to manage conflicts that children can not face, putting themselves in their place. The empathic authority is knowing how to say NO, in a kind and respectful way with emotions, but firm and coherent with behaviors.


If you say NO in a respectful way, surely, providing a brief explanation, it may work. But it is also normal that provocations appear (tantrum, anger, manipulation).

3 strategies to carry out when it says NO

1. Empathy: you have to respect your emotions, and understand their provocations. "I understand that you get angry, I understand that ..." are very important verbs. It is logical that people
anger against the NO. If we get angry because they get angry, we go astray.

2. Scratched disc: say again and again, as calmly as possible, an explanation. Looking into their eyes, controlling emotions, with firmness and kindness. A justification, as brief as possible.

3. Disarmament: it consists of transmitting calm before the challenges and incitements of the children offering security in the expositions. The best formula is to repeat your provocations. And the worst to go into the rag and discuss. Phrases that can help disarm can be: "You may be right ..., maybe that's how you say ...".

The handling of provocations

The provocations they are usually born and maintained by adult inconsistencies. To more previous inconsistencies, more provocations. How many times have you said "no" and in the end it was "yes"? How are you going to believe us in other situations? Usually when children provoke, something has been done wrong before.

Children do not provoke their parents to harm, but to find credibility. The provocation is a desperate attempt of the children to solve the problem and situate themselves in the world. Through provocation, children communicate in their own way that they exist, that they want to be relevant.

It is advisable to ignore the argument of the protest and attend to the emotion. It is very difficult not to react emotionally. We must respond with the greatest possible empathy and, at best, literally repeat the content of the provocation with few words.

The proposal is coherence, credibility, predictability. And if you think "no", it is advisable to say "no". But if you say "no", you have to do "no". What is said, you have to keep it. And if it is not going to be done, it is better not to say it. Children who use
the provocation in an unfit way have often experienced excessive contradiction between the "no" that is said and the "no" that is made. It is one of the functions of memory. Therefore, there are few psychological tools that resolve conflicts in the first place. Once lost, recover credibility costs.

Marisol Nuevo Espín
Advice:Jesus Salido Navarro Nuria Buscató Cancho Isabel Bellver Vázquez-Dodero. Members of the Board of Directors of CEAPA

More information in the book:Do not be afraid to say no, of the author Osvaldo Poli.

It may interest you:

- The powerful NON-educational: from 1 to 3 years

- Assertiveness: how to say no

- The power of the NO of the parents: from 0 to 2 years

- The leadership and authority of parents in the family

Video: How To Handle A Bad Temper | 9 Tips To Control your Anger


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