No is Not the Answer

No is Not the Answer

by | May 9, 2024 | Parenting Adolescents, Trending, Tween Times


Please stop saying ‘no’ immediately.

This may sound bold. Not because we’re suddenly saying yes to everything but because a conversation is infinitely better than an instant ‘no.’ A quick ‘no’ closes the door to chatting and learning about each other.

When they ask if they can spend the night at Jamie’s and we say ‘no,’ what happens next? Do they try to argue with you? Do they stomp away frustrated and feeling misunderstood? Do they utter something under their breath, roll their eyes, and stare you down? Do they ever say, “Oh, you’re right, that was a bad idea?” They’d never say that!

The better way to respond is to listen kindly and wonder why it’s important to them. Use conversation starters like the following so they can share their story. 

“Tell me more about it.”

“That’s a surprising question.”

“You sound excited.”

The value and folded-in purpose of asking for information first is showing our interest in them. When they feel heard and seen by us they tell us what they are thinking. They badly want to be understood and acknowledged by us, even though that’s not always the message they give. Here’s a sample conversation after using one of the conversation starters above.

“Kennedy’s going, so I want to go, too.”

“I missed something. I thought you and Jamie weren’t friends anymore.”

“Well, we are, sorta. For some reason, Jamie invited me.”

“I’m confused because you said you’d never speak to her again after the texts she sent. I think you said you’d never trust her, right?”

“I’m not going to hang out with her. It’s my other friends I want to be with. Jordan will be there, too.”

“I can see why you want to be there.”

Look what you’ve learned!

Neither we nor our tween wants a battle. As the leader, we can shift our tween’s simple question to a conversation. Our goal isn’t to rule from on high but to build a legacy of talking over things. This way, when ‘no’ is the answer, it is accepted easier because of the gentle environment our dialogue created.


I believe in you,



I’m excited to tell you my book, Loving the Alien: How to Parent Your Tween, is coming out on March 26th! Learn more here.


©2024 JoAnn Schauf, MS, LLC Your Tween & You | All rights reserved.