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Teaching Kids to Say No and Really Mean It

6 Jul 2015 – 11:42 AM EDT

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Teaching kids to say no when they feel uncomfortable is a very important lesson. Kids don’t always know the power of the word ‘no’ when they are young and may end up being pushed around because of their lack of understanding. This is not about teaching them to disobey their parents requests, but more about teaching kids to say and communicate the word ‘no’ when they don’t want to do something that scares them or makes them feel uneasy.

Many children get pushed or bullied into certain scenarios before they are ready, and if they only knew the power of the ‘no’ statement, they might use it more often. I always teach my kids to say no when they feel like saying no, and to be direct with others. So far, it has given them more confidence, and they tend to be more outspoken and share their feelings with others more often.

Obtain Eye Contact

When teaching kids to say no, it is important to teach them to obtain eye contact. When people make eye contact when stating something, the words are heard and respected more than when someone says something and looks away or down to the floor. Tell your kids that when they feel truly uncomfortable with someone or the requests that someone has, to say ‘no’ with direct eye contact. This way they will be heard and their ‘no’ statement will be respected.

Follow Up with a Statement After Saying ‘No’

Teach your kids to say no and follow up with a statement. For example, ‘no, I am not comfortable with that’, or ‘no, I do not want to do that activity.’ They can say no and leave it like that, but a follow-up statement with regards to their ‘no’, packs more of a punch and offers a serious tone.

Do Not Feel As Though You Have to Explain

Make sure your kids know that they don’t have to explain why they said no in the first place. If they are uncomfortable, the individual who asked them to do something should respect their wishes. They shouldn’t have to answer a stranger’s or acquaintance’s multitude of questions. Teach them that once they say no, they do not need to say things such as, ‘because my Mom doesn’t want me to,’ or ‘because I am nervous.’

Children don’t have to explain themselves to anyone but their parents and direct guardians. Even then, they don’t have to disclose every single detail if they like to have some privacy. While it is beneficial for kids to try new foods, enjoy new experiences and jump into new activities, they should never be forced into doing things that put them in turmoil.