Saying “no” respectfully and without feeling guilty about doing so is a very useful social skill. We teach children to share , to be empathetic , to respect others, but generally we fall short in the counterpart and do not teach them that saying “no” is valid and that it is a word that we can use with people other than ourselves. our family environment when we want to express our disagreement or rejection.

There is an example that comes to mind when I think about how little accepted the “no” is and the effects that saying it can have: I am referring to the case of Simone Biles , an athlete who, at the peak of her career, and After accepting much more pressure than he could bear, he pronounced a resounding “no” and withdrew from the Olympics in favor of his sanity. That “I don’t want to go out” went around the world , and the importance of talking about mental health increased exponentially. These are the benefits of your baby playing in front of the mirror.

So if it’s so important to feel free not to do something we don’t want to do, why not teach this to children from an early age?

First thing: talk about the context in which a “no” has a place

Obviously to start a conversation with children about the importance of saying “no”, they must be aware that there are circumstances in which there is no room for negotiation , such as in the fulfillment of their responsibilities (at home and at school), and in everything that affects your safety (such as having healthy habits or going to the doctor).

Promoting self- knowledge is also vital as a preliminary step, since it constitutes a very important basis for the child to easily identify what he feels, what he wants, what he likes and what he does not like . Although it is a skill that is learned over time and is subject to the emotional development of each child, we as parents can accompany them in this process.

What benefits does learning to say “no” have for children?

Helps them feel more secure

Saying “no” clearly but calmly is a skill that comes with practice. However, when a child knows that he can use it, knows that he has the power to decide and that his opinion is respected and  taken into account , he will feel more sure of himself.

They learn to set limits clearly

It is clear that in family and with people that children have total confidence the “no’s” come out without any difficulty, but when we have to do it in front of friends or strangers, it usually costs a lot. That is why one of the main advantages of a child knowing how to say no when they do not like something is that they leave no room for doubt and learn to take hold of their decisions.

It will be easier for them to be assertive

A value that characterizes people who enjoy a good emotional balance is assertiveness . Those who communicate with an assertive style (that is, they are neither passive nor aggressive). they express their desires and opinions without harming the other , since they usually easily find the right words to express themselves.

Helps them better manage rejection

By talking about this with a child, and by explaining that when they say “no” to someone, that person must respect their decision, we can put them in the opposite situation , that is, as the recipients of that refusal. It is complex both to bring up the subject and to get them to take a “no” without it affecting them (for example, when a friend does not want to play), but talking about these situations can help them manage them better.

Helps them manage peer pressure

Many times, as a result of the desire to fit in and be part of groups, we end up doing things that we do not want to be accepted . This happens especially in childhood and adolescence . At first they can be minor, “unimportant” things, but as the years go by they can become more serious issues such as smoking, drinking or trying drugs .

That is why learning to say “no” firmly can help them decisively to manage that pressure that groups sometimes generate (or the desire to belong to one), putting their own ideas and feelings first.

They will understand that their decisions must be respected and that they must respect the decisions of others

I think this is the most important point in talking to children about the implications of saying no. They must understand that they must not put their well-being before that of others , or out of shame, guilt or fear of rejection, and that in the same way, when someone answers with a “no”, we must respect that decision. Without a doubt, it can be a very powerful tool to prevent bullying , harassment and many other manifestations of violence that you may come across during your life.