Counselling and Therapy Services~Harrow, Middlesex Area

Teach children ” How To Say No”

By on Oct 2, 2015 in Blog | 4 comments

 images (3)

All day, every day, we hope that our teens will resist when they find themselves in a dicey situation — whether it involves drugs or booze or looking at porn Web sites or having sex. We cross our fingers that their first reaction will be a hearty N-O.

Recently I was on the Skype counselling with a teenage mother . My client was beside herself because her precious son had come home drunk the night before. My client wailed to me: “How many times me and my husband spent talking about alcohol during the past decade? And the first time he’s offered beer, he takes it. He TAKES IT!”  I asked her what was his excuse for taking it?” My client said: “All he could come up with is: ‘Mom — I DIDN’T WANT TO SAY YES — BUT I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO SAY.’” 

Now , this made me think on more deeper level !! You know, Just Say No sounds good in theory. But it implies that saying no is as easy as saying yes. It’s just not. In practice, saying no begs an explanation and saying yes doesn’t. Just Saying No makes for an awkward moment, which makes it an unhelpful suggestion to teens (and people pleasers ) who often care about avoiding awkwardness even more than they care about their own well-being.

Yes, we spend hours talking to our kids about WHY to say no, but we don’t tell them HOW to say no.

When they are put on the spot, they don’t have hours to explain their decisions to their peers. They have a split second. And while our teens and want to make the right decisions, they often want to avoid awkwardness even more. In the absence of a plan, they’ll likely default to yes. Just like we so often do. Maybe they’re not saying yes because they want to rebel – maybe they really do say yes because they don’t know what else to sayThey need help knowing, preparing.

One of life’s great reality checks is parenting or caring for young people. The process of trying to protect them and prevent them from making bad choices reminds all who try that we have very limited power. We may think we can control the worlds and people around us. But the reality is we have very little control over other people or the choices they make. It is a lesson that many parents find hard to accept it.

Teach your kids how to handle peer pressure with following strategies for resisting temptation, bad influences, and unsafe…

It’s Not as Easy as “Just Say No”

Teaching Individuality and Weighing the Options

 Teach your teen to: Look out for number one.
Why it works: Teens are so attached to one another — and to groupthink — they forget to look out for themselves as individuals. Explain to your child that by thinking of herself as a solo act she can get out of tough situations without a drama. “Let’s say your kid realizes there is a lot of drinking going on at a party, “Telling her friend, ‘Look, I’m uncomfortable here, and I’m leaving — but I’ll understand if you want to stay’ does two things. It gives your daughter the freedom to get herself out of trouble. And, since she’s not exerting any goody-two-shoes pressure on her pal, it will probably save the friendship.”

Teach your teen to: Rate all the options.
Why it works: Kids get invited to do things all the time, many of which seem relatively harmless to them. Have your teen practice weighing both sides of every offer: What good can come from letting Mr. Not-Smart-But-Popular copy your science homework? (Not much. You won’t make his buddy list because of this.) What bad can come? (Plenty. You could get caught, get suspended, and make your parents irate. At the very least you’ll probably have to deal with the same annoying request from this kid — or another one — tomorrow.)

Blaming Mom and Using Humor

 Teach your teens to: Blame you.
Why it works: Kids who can truthfully say, “No, I can’t — my mom said she would ground me for life” have a crucial advantage when it comes to saying no to their peers, according to researchers from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. But that means parents have to tell kids, early and often, exactly what the rules are, and what the consequences will be if they are broken. Be as specific as possible. Say, “If I catch you smoking, you will lose your allowance and be grounded for a month.” “If I find out you drank, you will lose the right to drive our car.” “If I learn that you’ve had sex, I will chaperone every date you have until you turn 18.” Knowing the consequences ahead of time makes it easier for kids to stay safe.

Teach your teen to: Make “NO” funny.
Why it works: Many times teens do say no, but in a way that creates unnecessary social problems. “People who expect to be taken seriously don’t have to whine or yell,” A kid who makes a joke when refusing, saying, “Sorry, I’m trying to be less popular” can stay out of trouble and still save face with peers. The one who says fearfully, “No, we might get in trouble” risks being branded a lifelong wimp.

Speaking Up, Using Your Eyes, and Repeating No

 Teach your teen to: Speak for herself.
Why it works: “The more assertive a kid is, the less likely she is to be victimized or pressured,”.  Putting yourself out there, like any other human behaviour, is a habit that can be learned through repetition. As often as possible, encourage kids to speak — politely but firmly — on their own behalf, ordering for themselves at restaurants, for example, or asking salespeople direct questions.

Teach your teen to: Use body language.
Why it works: “If your son holds his head up high and makes eye contact, it makes his ‘no’ mean more,”.  When watching TV with teens, point out characters who look strong and move assertively, and those who seem weak and unable to protect themselves, so kids can actually see what you mean when you talk about body language.

Teach your teen to: Repeat his “no” messages.
Why it works: Tell your son that when he wants to decline something he should pick a strong, clear line and stick with it. If he is offered a cigarette, for example, he should say, “I don’t want to.” If the other person keeps coming at him, he should just continue saying “I don’t want to” for as long as it takes to get off the hook. Experts call this the Broken Record Technique. “The more a kid says no, the more he feels it and means it,”.  Staying on message will probably wear out the other person — and build your teen’s resiliency for next time.

Teaching “Yes” Manners and Leading by Example

 Making Yes Mean Yes
For all the time parents spend thinking about teaching kids to say no, today’s teens are also having a tough time saying yes when it’s okay to say yes, report experts. When offered an invitation, some kids sullenly slouch, talk in monosyllables, or even ignore the gesture entirely. “They can come across as rude and unappreciative,”. Try a bit of good-natured razzing at dinner — “Excuse me, it doesn’t sound like you want that ice cream. Want to try that again?” — to teach kids that a convincing yes includes:

  • Looking directly into the eyes of the person making the offer
  • Speaking clearly, without mumbling
  • Nodding
  • Smiling
  • Keeping the body “open” — not folding arms across the chest or turning sideways
  • Thanking the other person

Just Say No, Mom! 
Face it,  while you’re teaching your kid to say no, beef up your own ability to do it. Then point out to your teen some of your successes, as they happen. Say, “Did you hear how I just said, ‘Sorry. Too busy’ when Tara aunty called to invite for a party ? I’m so proud of myself — it isn’t always easy to say no, but I’m glad I did.”

Hope this article helps many of you to deal with yourself and with your young and teen children!!

Sejal Desai




  1. Awesome article. Especially blaming mom part. One query. From when should we start teaching this to our child


    October 2, 2015

    • Thank you for your feedback. I think best is to practice with your own self first and have enough of examples and stories to share with your kid.You can start sharing with him when he understand basics of life!!

      Sejal Desai

      October 2, 2015

  2. Sejal
    Really good one…I have to learn to practice to say no before teaching my son……examples you gave are really awesome.


    October 3, 2015

    • Thank you Deepa !! Appreciate your feedback.

      Sejal Desai

      October 3, 2015

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *