The Effects of Saying No to an Adolescent

It is important to note that saying “no” to an adolescent child is not necessarily a breach of trust. In fact, setting limits and boundaries is an essential aspect of parenting and helps children develop a sense of security and structure.

However, if parents consistently say “no” without providing an explanation or rationale for their decision, it can lead to a breakdown in trust. Adolescents are at a stage in their development where they are beginning to assert their independence and autonomy, and if they feel that their parents are not respecting their opinions or perspectives, they may start to withdraw and become less communicative.

Additionally, if parents make promises or commitments to their adolescent child and then fail to follow through, it can also erode trust. Adolescents are sensitive to fairness and honesty, and if they feel that their parents are not living up to their word, they may feel betrayed and resentful.

Ultimately, it is important for parents to communicate openly and honestly with their adolescent children, listen to their concerns and perspectives, and work together to find mutually agreeable solutions. This can help build trust and strengthen the parent-child relationship.

What can parents say to set limits and maintain their adolescent child’s trust?

When parents need to set limits or say “no” to their children, it is important to communicate their reasons clearly and respectfully. However, there are other ways that parents can phrase their responses to help their children feel heard and valued. Here are some examples:


  • “I understand why you want to do that, but it’s not safe/appropriate/right for you at this time.
  • “Let’s discuss this more before making a decision.”
  • “I can see how important this is to you, but we have to consider the impact it might have on others/the family.”
  • “Let’s find a compromise that works for both of us.”
  • “I appreciate your enthusiasm, but we have to prioritize our other commitments at the moment.”
  • “I understand your disappointment, but sometimes saying no is part of being a responsible parent.”
  • “Let’s explore some other options that might work better.”


By using language like this, parents can show their children that they value their input and opinions while also setting boundaries and helping them understand the reasoning behind their decisions.

Dr. Yaro Garcia

Hello, I am Dr. Garcia, please call me Yaro. My degrees are in clinical psychology and I am a licensed mental health counselor. My approach is caring, warm, safe, non-judgmental, and straight forward. It is a difficult decision to seek therapy, I take time to build a trusting therapeutic relationship with you…