“No” is Such a Simple Word

Think about it. “No” is a two letter word, one syllable, easy to pronounce. Easy – to use, that’s another matter. Remember last week when you got a call to do something you really didn’t want to do but you did it anyway because you thought you should. You didn’t want the rest of the parents or your friends to think you badly of you. You gave in to peer pressure even though you wanted to say no.

It works the same way for our kids. One or more friends (or maybe just acquaintances) will ask your child to do something she doesn’t want to, but the “no” gets stuck in her throat. A little practice can help children and teens feel more confident in belting out the two letter word or using refusal tactics.

Role play just what to say and how to do it. “No, I don’t want to.” “No, my parents won’t let me.” “No, you go ahead without me.” “No, that’s not me.” Other ideas are things like: start another activity, change the subject, leave the situation, and find new friends.

Let’s go back to that phone call I mentioned earlier and my favorite mantra of parents as role models. Does your child hear you saying “no”? Does he see you giving in and doing things you really don’t want to do? Show by example how to stand up for yourself and not get pressured.

Do you have ideas on how to teach a child to say “no” or even how you’ve learned to say “no” yourself?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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2 thoughts on ““No” is Such a Simple Word

  1. I find that so many parents do not like to be told “no” by their children, but what better way to help children practice “no” by allowing for some “no” at home. For example, ask your child if they want to go to the store or some other errand, and if they say no, be ok with that (assuming it is safe for them to be at home by themselves, of course.) Or find other ways to provide yes/no options. As long as there truly is a choice, I’ve found that giving my children some yes/no options is great practice for using the word “no”.

    In regards to me saying no, a few months ago Psychology Today had a cover story on “Saying No” and the gist of the article was that when you say “no” to something you are automatically saying “yes” to something else. I LOVE that idea!! For example, if I say “no” to helping at the bake sale I might be saying “yes” to a family trip to the park. Puts things in perspective for me. 🙂

  2. Cindy – you are modeling both how to teach using the word “no” and how to actually do so yourself. Great ideas – thanks for sharing.
    Donna Donald

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