Raising respectful, well behaved children means letting children say “NO” to adults…sometimes.

Empowering children to say “no” to adults appropriately is worth the process of teaching them the when and how.  

Giving a child the ability to make choices empowers them to listen to their feeling from a young age and breeds respectful and respected children.

Talking through scenarios of when it’s OK to say “no” to adults is a great exercise to engage in with your child.  It not only provides context for your child it also provides practice.

Here are 3 simple scenarios you could talk through with your child:

1. “If you are ever playing at the park and an adult wants you to strike a pose for a picture but you don’t want to that’s a time to say ‘no thanks’ to an adult.”

2. “If an adult asks you for a hug but you feel uncomfortable or don’t want it, that is an a time to say ‘no thanks’ to an adult.”

3. “If an adult ever touches your personal (private) parts, you should always say ‘no’ and ‘stop that’.  If anyone ever touches your private parts run and tell your parent or a safe adult. No matter what anyone says You won’t get in trouble for saying no.”

Many parents may cringe at the thought of letting their child say “no” for fear of losing control or respect with their child in everyday encounters.

Worries such as, “will a power struggle ensue?” or “How will my 3 or 7 year old know when it’s appropriate and when it’s not to say “no”?” are real.

Yet despite the fears you may have, reality is, raising kids empowered to say “no” to adults appropriately can decrease the risk of your child being taken advantage of in life.  It can lower their risk of unwanted sexual encounters.  And it can instill a sense of confidence in your child as they navigate through life.

To delve deeper into the topic of empowering your children to say “no” in appropriate contexts I’d encourage you to pick up a copy of “My Body is Mine, My Feelings are Mine” and add it to your family’s personal library.  

Stay equipped as a parent.  Don’t parent alone!

Susan Stutzman

Susan Stutzman

Owner | Child Therapist | LCPC, RPT

Parenting is hard! But you don’t have to do it alone. I work with children and parents to resolve emotional conflict, cultivate healing, and nurture hope.
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