Topic 3 Refusal Skills Techniques to Teach Your Children

Case study: Your child is invited to a birthday party to which someone has brought cigarettes. Their friends are very impressed and try cigarettes. One of their friends asks them, “Would you like to smoke too?”

How will your child answer ? Should you have prepared them in advance ? Are they able to say “NO” ?

Conclusion: The friendship environment is the most common negative factor for trying “forbidden things”, since each member of the group is under the supervision and control and evaluation of the other members and the child has to follow certain norms and rules of behaviour that correspond to the interests of the group. Friendly criticism takes on a particularly negative meaning for attitudes towards some kind of ‘bad’ behaviour. Because of a strong desire to be a member of the group, as well as a fear of derogatory behaviour and ridicule, the teenager decides to comply with all group norms.

Still someday, as much as we may not want to, our child will have to face the choice of saying “Yes” or “No.” The role of the parents is to prepare the child to refuse harmful suggestions without embarrassment or discomfort. They need to know what to do before the situation arises. Being prepared will help him to be bold and firm.

  1. Say “No thanks”. This is the easiest approach and often works when you are faced with friendly teasing pressure.
  2. Give a reason, fact, or excuse. An excuse often gets you away from the person or situation. Practice an excuse so that you won’t hesitate and will sound confident.  Have a code word to use with your parents.  Text them the word and have them call to say you need to come home.
    • “My mom just called. Sorry, I gotta go. Something’s going on at home.”
    • “My parents would ground me for life.”
    • “I forgot I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon.”
    • “I already lost my phone privileges last week. If they find me doing this stuff, I will not be able to go anywhere for a month.”
  1. Walk away. One of the most effective refusal skills is to simply walk away. You may feel obligated to stand and face “the enemy”, but you need to just leave. Say “no” and walk away while saying it.
  2. Change the subject. You can offer another alternative activity.
    • “No. Let’s go play ball instead.”
    • “Let’s go get a snack at my house. I’m hungry.”
    • “I wanted to play Xbox this afternoon.”
  1. Use humor. Humor is a great way to get out of a situation when you are not comfortable.
    • “No thanks. This stuff stunts my growth.”
    • “Man, I need all the brain cells I can get. No thanks!”
  1. Broken record or repeated refusal. Keep saying “no” over and over again. It will buy you some time to use another refusal technique or be an annoyance.
  2. Cold shoulder or just ignore. Avoid directly confronting the person. Turn your shoulder and talk to someone else, or just ignore them as if you don’t hear them.
  3. Avoid the situation. Common sense tells you the places and times where there may be problems with peer pressure. Simply avoid these situations.
  4. Strength in numbers. The truth is simple. If you surround yourself with friends that make good choices, then you will, too. The opposite is true as well. One of the most important choices you can make is your choice of friends.