Does this sound strange to you? Well…it might but it is important, and I have worked with many, many teenagers who I have diagnosed with this “condition”. Now, I am obviously being a bit sarcastic to make this point, but it is because I have seen the positive changes that can occur when parents (and their teenagers) realize that “too much yes” is central to many of the issues they are having. "Too much yes" happens when parents have not been firm enough with limits, restrictions, and in saying “no” to some things their children want or want to do.
“Too much yes” results in teenagers not understanding that they sometimes need to work harder to get what they want. “Too much yes” results in teenagers not understanding there are consequences for their actions. “Too much yes” results in teenagers not learning to tolerate discomfort or negative emotions. “Too much yes” results in teenagers not experiencing the real world where they will hear “no” over and over.
It is understandable how parents can fall into this trap and it can happen in a few different ways. First, parents want their children to be happy, so they try to give them what they want and what will make them happy. This makes sense, however, if teens get everything they want, they never learn to sit with the discomfort of not getting their needs met immediately. This makes it challenging to teach them to work hard for what they want.
Second, as children move into the pre-teen and teen years, they often begin questioning, badgering, pleading and guilt tripping parents. These behaviors can be exhausting so sometimes parents “give in” to their demands because it is simply easier and less stressful than dealing with their teen’s full on attack of them. As the parent of a teenager, you are tired and likely juggling too many things at once so if you have fallen victim to this, it makes complete sense.
Finally, this can occur when 2 parents are no longer together and one or both are wanting to go above and beyond for their teen, either out of guilt for no longer being with the other parent, or because they are in conflict with the other parent and want to be the “favorite parent”. I know this one may sound a bit harsh, however, I have seen this happen many times and it is not an effective way to parent. When parents are not parenting consistently, whether they are together or not, teenagers will pick up on this and use it to their advantage.
Regardless of how this situation develops, what happens is that teenagers who have experienced any of these scenarios cannot tolerate hearing “no”, or having limits set on them. They want what they want, when they want it and cannot tolerate anything different. Parents with teenagers who are in this situation find themselves in a battlefield when they attempt to exert authority or set limits. Teens push back so much that it often results in parents compromising or “giving in” out of pure frustration or exhaustion.
In order to rid children of the “too much yes” diagnosis, parents must change their own behavior. In a perfect world, we would just be able to have teens change how they are acting, however, that is not realistic or within a parent’s control. The strategies below are 100% within your control, as the parent. It will not be easy initially, but the lasting impact will make parenting your teenager easier and ultimately will help them develop the life skills that will help them succeed in the “real world” where they will hear “no” on a regular basis.
The tips below will help you make changes that will reduce conflict, help your teen have a more predictable environment with clear expectations and will help you, as the parent, have more confidence and assurance that you are preparing your teen for what they will experience throughout the rest of their lives.
With your commitment and consistency, the “too much yes” diagnosis can go away forever. You’ve got this! For ongoing tips and support, go to my How To Parent A Teen Facebook group. I look forward to seeing you there!
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