Teaching Your Child to Say ‘No’

Psychologists call these ‘refusal skills’, and they’re a key part of childhood development. From responding to peer pressure, stranger danger or politely declining something, they’re essential skills for all children to learn.
child say no

How to help your child:

  • No, thank you.’ is a perfectly acceptable answer. It’s important to empower your child to say no to things – within reason – obviously it’s one thing to say “no” to accepting sweets from a stranger and another to say “no thank you” to doing the washing up. As your child grows older explain to them that it is ok to say no sometimes, and discuss with them how to respond to different situations.
  • Know your child’s friends and their wider circle. It’s not just your child’s friends who can have an influence on them. Make sure you are aware of who your child is interacting with on a daily basis, and understand the type of influence they may have on your child at any given time.
  • Clearly outline positive values. If a child sees their close relatives having courage in their positive values, it helps them to have confidence when faced with making difficult decisions.
  • Discuss the cost of saying ‘no’. Sometimes saying no comes at a cost. It comes at a cost and it may not be as easy for them to give up whatever that is – whether it is friendship, social status or otherwise – by rejecting the things they should. Teach them about standing up for themselves and its benefits.

From birth to the age of five

  • When your child starts making a bad choice, try to distract them. If this does not work give them short, simple explanations as to why their behaviour is harmful.

Children ages six-nine

  • Invite your child’s friends over to play and get to know their parents as well.
  • Highlight good decision making skills and explain why the behaviour is good.
  • Speak with your child about the children they admire at school and why. This will help them open up.
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