A tip for parents of teenagers: don’t be afraid to say ‘no’

tip for teenagers

A while ago my cousin and I were talking to the wife of another cousin of mine, who has two children, a boy aged 20 and a girl aged 18. We both have girls who are 12 years old, who are slowly but steadily entering a whole new phase of children’s development: that of puberty and the associated physical and psychological changes and emotional challenges. So we asked our *experienced* cousin-in-law to share tips to help us ‘survive’ the teenage years.

We did discuss the general subjects of trust, reassurance, love and an open communication. But overall our cousin-in-law was super relaxed and matter-of-fact about puberty. She reassured us that it is mostly a super fun and interesting time! She said it would sort itself out and that we shouldn’t worry about it. There wasn’t any specific advice she could think of, except for one tip she thought was important to give us. She told us we shouldn’t be afraid of saying ‘no’.

Teenagers are busy, she explained. There is school, homework, all of the sports and cultural activities, and on top of that there is their hefty social life. It can be quite overwhelming for teenagers to participate with all the fun activities they are invited to join — parties, events, outings, film nights, etcetera. But, because of peer pressure, it can be difficult to say no. It simply is not cool to say that you don’t feel like going to the movies because you’re feeling tired or simply would prefer an evening at home with your parents! However, when you can’t make it because your mother (or father) won’t allow you to go, the decision is out of your hands. (Their fault!) And that can be a very nice and easy solution.

I have already thought of and used her advice a few times, and I definitely understand her point. A teenager is busy — a lot comes their way. A forced time-out from it all every now and then can be so nice! Also, I think it is important for children to learn that they shouldn’t be afraid to ‘miss out’. You simply can’t do it all, and that is ok. A cosy and quiet evening at home is nice too!

Do you have teenagers? Do you have thoughts or tricks to share? I would love to hear!

xxx Esther


Comments (14)

August 29, 2017

This is so important even when they are younger. Everyone needs some down time to recharge and just be.

Esther in Amsterdam
August 29, 2017

Of course, you are totally right!! It can, however, be a lot more challenging for parents of teenagers to say no than it is for parents of younger kids. Teenagers are way more independent and opinionated! (As they should be!) 🙂

August 29, 2017

I love this and agree with commenter Steph who said it’s important at all ages. I will say that I did really love that, during my teenager years, my mom and dad would always be my “out” if I needed one.

August 29, 2017

Thank you for this post. I really enjoyed reading it is so important to cover the interests needs and issues of kids 10+ as well as the babies and younger crew. Yay; I’ve been waiting for tips and posts like this!

August 30, 2017

Me too! More of this. My kids are 12 and 10.

August 29, 2017


A scary subject I know but … I just read a book called Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein for my book club that has me thinking about how to raise teenage girls and how to help them navigate the inevitable world of hooking up. It isn’t an alarmist book but it does talk about the new realities in the age of social media. I feel like there were a lot of ideas about how to empower girls to say no themselves(!) and to also expect respect and enjoyment within relationships! It isn’t a comfortable topic for parent or child but I feel like its essential to learn how to speak about these issues with teenage girls and boys. Even if you feel its not applicable yet I found it such a interesting and important read that I highly recommend

Kindest from Colorado.

Esther in Amsterdam
September 5, 2017

Thank you Anna!! x

August 30, 2017

My daughter is 10 so I’m always interested to read anything you guys have to say about tweens and teenagers. I appreciate what you do post about for this age group as there is so little out there. It would be fantastic if you could please post more about decent tween-age clothing, books, activities, recipes etc. I know this isn’t your core audience, but parents that have been following your blog for years (like me) have children that are growing up and there are sadly hardly any decent websites for us…

August 30, 2017

My thoughts exactly! Please, more of this. My son is 10 now, I follow you for 4 years now, I guess… Thank you!

Esther in Amsterdam
September 5, 2017

I agree. We’ll do our best! x

October 28, 2017

I third that! I also have been loving the blog since it started and hence my eldest is ten. It would be great to continue to follow you all as the children go through the next “stage”!

Esther in Amsterdam
November 1, 2017

Thank you!! That next stage will be a fun one, I think! xx

September 1, 2017

This is so true… No is an excellent word, so useful in so many circumstances. Here is a tip that has worked with my teens, make sure that they have adult friends that aren’t their parents. My kids each have a friend that perhaps a family friend they have always known, someone you trust completely, obviously. Someone they can talk to about all the grown up things that go on that they might not want to talk with their parents. I know, all the parents in the world think that their kids tell them everything, but the truth is, I didn’t want to talk to my parents about everything. So each of my teens has a friend of ours that will take them for a coffee once a month and just chat about their life and how their work is going and whatever else is on their minds. Just low key friendships with folk that are older than their peers have been invaluable to my kids. Sometimes they chat about silly things, they are kids after all, but sometimes they chat about big things… It’s there space to bounce ideas around. It has worked for our children to know that they can tell us anything, anytime, but there are folk available to them, as their world gets bigger, who are interested and care for them, outside the world of their immediate family.

Esther in Amsterdam
September 5, 2017

I like this thought. It reminds me of a post I wrote last year: https://babyccinokids.com/blog/2015/06/02/tuesday-tips-about-middle-childhood-and-discovering-and-nurturing-passions/. It is good for teenagers to have a place and a person to be able to go to outside the family or home… Thanks for this tip! x

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