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Does Your Child Know How to Say No?

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As parents, you want your child to have confidence and practice that it is ok to say no. Giving them control over these areas teaches them how to say no and when it is ok to do so. If a child hasn’t learned it’s ok to set boundaries, she could find herself struggling to say no when she should. Some day a boy will want her to do something with her body she doesn’t want to. Or what about when she is offered drugs for the first time?

Some kids have trouble saying no to others if they fear it will hurt a person’s feelings. Maybe she doesn’t want to spend the night or have a play date with a specific friend that she doesn’t really get along with. Maybe she fears that saying no will end with her being made fun of. This can result in your child becoming a people pleaser, which will cause problems down the road. If you want your child to learn to say no, follow these tips:

Give them control of some things

When you let kids control a few things in their world, they learn to have a voice and speak up for what they need. Learning this skill at an early age will help them have healthy relationships now and in the future. My husband and I let our kids decide who can go in their rooms, what special toys they prefer not to share, and whether or not they want to do certain activities. Most importantly, we teach them that it’s ok to say no when it comes to their body.

Let them practice with your family and close friends

If you want your kids to be confident in saying no, they need to practice. I’m not meaning that your child should be able to say no whenever she wants. She still needs to be respectful, listen to you, and obey the house rules. I’m talking about letting your child tell you no when she doesn’t want to be tickled or when she wants to have some downtime playing alone in her room instead of playing a game. Allowing this to be ok will help her strengthen her confidence and a voice about what she needs.

Prepare your child for others’ reactions

People don’t really like to be told no. If your child is speaking up and saying no to others, she might get hit with a guilt trip. A friend might try to manipulate your child to get their way. She could be made fun of or called a name. Your child needs to know this might happen and that it’s ok to still say no if it does. Of course, it all depends on if your child is trying to set a boundary based on an important value or just being stubborn; but it’s good to help her know when it’s best to stand her ground and when she may need to compromise.

Praise them when they do

Positive reinforcement is always a good way to get a child to keep doing the desired behavior. When you notice your child saying no and setting boundaries, be sure to affirm her. It’s good to even thank your child when they set a boundary in a respectful way with you because it teaches you what they need from you. Praising your child in this way can help contradict any of the negative feelings, like guilt, that they may feel. Your child may have fears about hurting your feelings otherwise.

Need more help on step-by-step ways to teach your kids about boundaries?

Let’s share some ideas, ladies. How are you encouraging your kids to say no?

Teri Claassen is a Jesus follower, wife to Dan, mommy to one boy and one girl, a foster mom to kids in need, and a therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling in Tampa, FL.


When have you said yes but wanted to say no?

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