Here’s How Parents Can Teach Teens the Art of Saying No

Saying no can be really hard sometimes. Especially for teens because they want to be liked and would not want to come across as rude. They do not want to disappoint their friends, teachers, or any other person for that matter just by saying no to them. They hesitate while saying no to someone and most often than not end up saying yes instead.

Undoubtedly, the ability to say no to someone is a critical life skill. It’s a skill that children won’t probably learn without explicit practice and instruction. Usually, parents expect their children to say no to the much bigger things such as drugs, alcohol, sex, and anything that might be harmful to them. But the thing is if they are not being able to confidently turn down an invitation or choose not to do someone a favor, how would they be able to say no when it matters more?

Therefore, it is important teens should know how to say no to someone politely without being rude or offensive. Here are some ideas for parents to help teach teens to say no in the best way possible.

Be Clear About Priorities and Truthful in Refusal

Saying no would be easier if our teens are clear about their priorities because it’s harder to turn down a request when their reasons for doing so seem insignificant. If a teen is busy somewhere else and wants to decline a request to attend an event, saying ‘I’m not that interested’ would seem selfish. Instead, they’d rather be truthful about it and say, ‘I’m sorry to upset you, but I’m already going somewhere else that evening.’

When a teen is clear about their priorities and remains truthful then turning down a request is not going to sound rude. False excuses and white lies often lead to further misunderstandings and entanglements.

Adopt Simple and Vague Ways to Say No

It is always a good idea to adopt simple and vague ways to say no to someone. Teens should make a particular plan before they are met with a request because it will help them act in a way that makes them be steady with their original intentions.  

Teens need to say something that makes them feel comfortable. Parents should help them choose a default excuse and then make them practice saying it before they need to say it to the other person. Some of the ideas are as follows:

“Thank you for considering me but I’m sorry I won’t be able to help you at this time.”

“Thanks for asking but unfortunately I can’t be there. What I can do for you is, I will tell my friends about it and also post it on social media.”

“I wish I could do it but it’s not going to work out for me this time.”

Think About the Future Rather than the Present

Research has shown us time and again that we often choose what is more satisfying for us in the present rather than what will make us happiest and satisfying in the future. Similarly, pleasing others by saying yes to them can be far more pleasant in the present than saying no.

Parents can help teens make better decisions by encouraging them to think about the future rather than the present. They should be encouraged to picture themselves some time ahead of the event in question and say no to someone now so they don’t find themselves trying to get out of the situation later.

Encourage Persistence

Teens should be encouraged persistence in their practice of saying no to someone. If the other person is not accepting their no with grace, then help your teens practice reiterating their refusal calmly, using the same words. This will help the other person see that they are strictly sticking to their no and that their constant annoyance is not going to change their answer.

Even if that doesn’t work, then teach your teens to say something else that involves expressing empathy. For example, your teen could say, “I understand you are in a tough situation,” or “I know this hard for you to accept.” In case the other person still does not back down, teens can express how they are feeling about the situation.

Say No for Your Children

Sometimes parents can help their teens by saying no for them. When a child is having a hard time declining a request, they may use parents as their excuse. Parents know that their child may use them as an excuse for declining a request and they would be okay with it. There are times when children are not feeling comfortable while saying no. In such cases, parents should intervene and help their teens by saying no for them. 

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