Teaching Your Kid to Say “No”

One of the most important ways to protect your child against sexual abuse is teaching them consent by giving them the power and ability to say no. If they understand consent and sexual health, then they will be that much more capable of telling you when someone violates them in some way.

Your child’s ability to say no doesn’t mean they can say no to anything and everything. Saying they don’t want a certain person to hug them is different than saying no when they’re asked to unload the dishwasher.

With that in mind, here are 3 ways to teach your kid how to say no, and when they should say it:

Explain Consent

Consent is a two-way street. Not only are they allowed to say no when it comes to their own body, emotions, or personal space, but they also need to allow others to do the same. Let them know that when someone tells them no, they should respect it. In the same way, when they tell someone no, then that person should respect it as well.

Roleplay

One of the best ways to teach a child a new skill, and have them see the application to real life, is to roleplay a few scenarios. Let them know when they are allowed to say no with no explanation and when a no might need a follow-up conversation. Give them examples and let them make up their own.

Teach Them to Follow Their Intuition

This, like so many topics, won’t be a one-time discussion but an ongoing conversation. Let your child say no to people, activities, or situations that make them uncomfortable. The more they are allowed to follow their own instincts, the more likely they’ll be to listen to them in a difficult situation.

Parenting is difficult. You don’t want to raise a defiant child who doesn’t respect authority and says no to everyone and everything. Teaching them to say no isn’t about giving them free reign. It’s about teaching them to respect and be respectful – protecting themselves while protecting others.

There are times when life is rushed and things are happening and your child says no at the most inconvenient time. Instead of immediately pushing back and ordering them to do whatever it is you want them to do: pause, take a breath, and ask them why. Create an open dialogue with your child. Teach them about consent. Empower them to say no.