Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Teach Your Kids to Say “No!”

Why Refusal Skills Are So Valuable to Our Kids

One of the most frustrating thing as a parent can be to hear your child tell you “No!” for various reasons, and it begins almost as soon as they can speak. We also probably wear on their nerves as we tell them “No” for so many things in life. No – you can’t cut your own hair. No – please don’t smear your banana in my hair. No – we aren’t watching that cartoon for the 29th time.

Life can build as a battle of wills, with both parents and children duking it out with this one, simple word. Despite how frustrating it can be to hear my child tell me, “no”, the older they become they more I know that it is really important that they be able to use this word well. In fact, I hope they learn how to say “no” better than I ever did.

Why is it good for our kids to say no?

It is not something we necessarily want our kids to say to us when we ask them to do their chores or tell them it is time to leave the park. However, our kids will encounter so many situations in life where they will need the confidence and capability to say no.

Refusal skills are valuable tools for children (and everyone) to learn. A good perspective on this matter comes from Dr. Sears when he says that, “It’s necessary for a parent to say “no” to a child so the child can later say “no” to himself.” Beyond being able to regulate our own actions and words, no becomes an assertive tool our children can use to develop independence, security, and strength.

Maintain identity. The world around us and our children asks things of us – to do things, participate in activities, and make choices. When our kids have the confidence to say no, they are more capable of maintaining their identity, their personal preferences, and their true opinions. They learn to say yes to things that they value, and are able to say no when it is not right in their hearts.

Improve self-image. No really is a powerful word, and being able to stand up for yourself and your own beliefs can improve your self-image. I’ve seen my children assert their own beliefs with the word no, and doing so respectfully and confidently can help build a positive self-image. It gives them a sense of independence and that they are capable of making good decisions.

Protect their personal space. It is so important to me that my kids learn to define their personal boundaries – both physically and emotionally. While it can be more comfortable to say yes and avoid confrontation or feel like you are letting down someone, often we give up some of our personal space in return. I want my children to have people and opportunities in their lives because they choose them to be there, not because they were too intimidated to say no to them.

Protect their personal safety. This is obviously an important issue for parents and children. We must teach them to say (and scream) No! if their safety or security is ever threatened. No parent wants to imagine their child being physically or sexually abused. We need to empower them to say no, repeatedly, and to combine that No! with strong body language (kicking, thrashing, drawing attention to the situation).

How do I help my child learn to say no?

Keep a balance. In order for your child to understand the power of the words yes and no, make sure that they are used in balance within the home so they don’t lose their significance. If we overuse “no” with our children they begin to see it as a barrier word, instead of an empowering tool in communication.

Allow for their opinions. When our kids say no to us, we might not want to hear it, but we need to respect their opinions whenever possible. If they are able to express their opposing opinions to us in respectful ways and they get positive feedback from us, it teaches them how to their own ideas with respect and confidence.

Teach non-verbal communication skills. Model good non-verbal communication skills such as maintaining eye contact and using appropriate body language. Eye contact is a powerful tool, and kids can learn to match their “no” with shaking the head and facial expressions that match the language.

Teach them to say more than “no”. Even though no is a clear and simple word, sometimes it is just not enough for some people. Teach your child about saying no and expanding it with their reasons why. “No, I’m not going to skip class because I don’t want to lose my spot on the basketball team and I know my parents will not be happy with that choice.”

Role play. There are certain situations we hope our children never face, but we need to prepare them for those anyway. Role play things like situations of peer pressure. While this can be uncomfortable, it is even more uncomfortable for your child when she is actually faced with these situations and saying “no” seems a lot harder than it sounds.

I’d be a rich woman if I had a penny for every time my kids said “no” to me. It may not be my favorite part of any conversation, but I know that they will be rich in confidence, security, and self-worth when they are able to voice their own opinions and needs – even if it means saying “no”.

Related posts:

  1. 7 Lessons Our Kids Teach Us
  2. Teach Your Kids to Love Vegetables by Cooking Together
  3. Teach Your Kids to Love Learning

View full post on Parenting Tips For Raising Successful Kids |


One Response to “Teach Your Kids to Say “No!””
  1. Rafael says:

    I didn’t need to teach my son how to say “no”, he learned that before he could walk, without help hahahaha and now, when I do something that he doesn’t like, he says: “noooooo, daaaaad”… it’s so cute *——–*

    great article, btw!

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