“A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove . . . but the world may be different . . . because I was important in the life of a child.”

~ Forest E. Whitcraft

Monday, July 19, 2010

Teaching Kids to Say No

Some kids don't know how to take no for an answer.
"Julie" comes to visit your Janie, and Julie wants to borrow a special bracelet Janie got as a gift from her grandparents. No, my Mom said I'm not allowed to let anyone borrow that bracelet, Janie tells her.
I'll give it right back after school tomorrow. Your Mom will never know, Julie retorts, trying to change Janie's mind.
But I'm not even allowed to wear it to school.
If you're my friend, you'll let me.

We've all heard an exchange like the one above, and as parents and educators many of us will cringe just from thinking about it. The friendship card gets played a lot with kids around the age of seven or eight, especially with girls. And later on, it's not uncommon for boys to use a similar tactic with their girlfriends in order to convince the girl to do something she isn't comfortable with. Friends should respect each other, and that goes double when it comes to the romantic relationships that develop in adolescence and early adulthood. Respect means that when a friend says no, they shouldn't be made to feel guilty about it and they shouldn't have to repeat themselves.

Kids need to be told no
As parents and educators, it's important for us to say no to kids when the stakes are low. They need to get used to being refused sometimes. If they always get what they want, they won't know how to accept a refusal gracefully. We can offer alternatives or compromises, and we should be open to a certain amount of negotiation, as long as it's teaching kids to work together to find a solution that works for everyone. But every once in a while, the answer really is "no," and kids need to learn that when it's said it should be respected.


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