Here’s a challenge for you. Every time you are tempted to say no to your teenager, pause and ask yourself if you could say yes instead.

Sometimes with teenagers we get so controlled by fear that we find ourselves saying no to everything. Of course we are doing it out of love. We want to protect them from harm, and often that means saying no to things we know to be dangerous.

But challenge yourself to say yes more often. Not only will that make the no answers more impactful, but it will also free you up from slipping into a control trap.

Teens need adventure. They feed off that adrenaline rush. If we don’t provide safe places for adrenaline, the need won’t simply go away. They’ll just find unsafe places for adventure. It’s not realistic to shut down their intrinsic and developmentally appropriate urges for excitement, and we shouldn’t try. But when faced with an impending dangerous situation, we often shoot it down.

You can try to say yes more often. You won’t say yes to anything that will be a serious risk to their health or well-being, but you already know that. What you can say yes to are things that push a little outside your comfort zone. They want to go to a concert that goes a little later than curfew (with friends you know and trust), or they want to spend their own money on something you’d never buy and don’t really understand. Say yes. Let them do it.

You’ll likely see a shift. Simply saying yes and letting them have (safe) adventures will make your no statements land. And saying yes will also give you both freedom – they’ll have freedom to explore and learn, and you’ll have freedom from having to control everything that they do. Give the YES challenge a shot. Let us know your results!

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