Your child faces a number of tough decisions in her life. Since making friends and fitting in are important to many children, peer pressure has a big impact on decisions, especially on those about drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. Children may be afraid that if they say no to something harmful, they won't be accepted. It is important that you teach your child about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Other important skills your child needs are refusal skills. If you teach her how to say no to dangerous situations, she will feel more confident in her decisions. There are a number of ways your child can refuse drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Following is a guide for teaching your child refusal skills.
Ways To Say No
- Say, "No, thanks." It could be just as easy as that! However, if the person offering the cigarette, beer, or joint persists, your child will have to back up her "No thanks" with other tactics.
- Be a broken record. Tell your child to keep saying no as many times as he needs to, either to cause the person pressuring them to stop, or to stall until he can think of something else to say.
- Give a reason. This reason could be simply, "I'm not allowed to do that," or, "That's bad for you." It could state the consequences, such as, "I don't want to do that; it will make me sick," or, "You can die from doing that." The important thing is that your child state her reason for saying no with confidence. It's important for your child not to get into an argument; the goal is to refuse what is being offered.
- Walk away or ignore the offer. This doesn't work in all situations. Sometimes your child will be alone or in some other situation where he can't walk away.
- Change the subject or suggest doing something else. By saying, "Let's do ____ instead," your child has the potential to not only refuse an offer of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, but to prevent a friend from using them too.
- Assert yourself. This is an important part of all the above tactics. If your child can stick up for herself, she is learning an important life skill. Being able to state your position assertively is a trait that we value in adults, so if your child learns it now, she will be better off in the future.
Remember, the best way to refuse drugs, alcohol, and tobacco is to spend time with people who don't use these substances. Help your children establish positive friendships, and monitor your child's activities.
Put It Into Practice
Once you teach your child refusal skills, it is important that you practice them with him. Different aged children may face different situations, and it's important to make sure you practice with situations that may actually happen. Start by asking your child what he does when someone tries to get him to do something he doesn't want to do. Do a number of role-play situations in which you pose as the offerer, and have your child practice different ways to say "no." When you are finished, your child should feel confident that he has the power to make the right choice.
Reprinted with the permission of the Department of Health and Human Services.