“Yes means yes, no means no,” has been a long trialed slogan, trotted out to raise awareness around rape and sexual assault. Yes, great. Is it working? No. Research supports that it can be difficult for many children and women to say no in risky situations because they are often scared and because they have seldom had the opportunity to have their “no” listened to and respected. Being assertive takes practice. Saying “no” when everyone else is saying “yes” can leave many people isolated and bullied. Desperate to fit in, to be liked, to be part of the crowd, many young people, and adults, give in to peer pressure.
Learning how to say “no” is an area that parents of young children often overlook. Although many toddlers start out saying “no” on every occasion, we soon halt this learning by telling the babies that saying “no” is not nice. Sexual abuse is not nice either and when children have been trained to never say “no” to grown ups, they become easy targets for predators.
Saying “no” is not a form of disrespect. It is an example of assertiveness and high self-esteem. Of course, there will be times when “no” is an unacceptable answer from your child. For example, “Tidy your room please”, or “Hop in the car we’re going to school now”, but children with healthy self-esteem will usually understand that some things are age and family appropriate while some other things will not tolerated.
To confidently say “no”, people need practice. Children need practice while young so they will grow into confident adults. Set up situations where you know your child will say “no”, and provide them with experiences of having their “no” listened to, and respected.
Many predators will say, “They didn’t say no so therefore they like it.” Do not be fooled by this. People of all ages do not say “no” to an abusive situation because they are scared, unsure of what to do, embarrassed or confused by what is happening. For children, it is particularly difficult to say “no” to a grown up perpetrator. We have trained our children to respect adults and to do as told.
Consider this: If you say yes on occasions when you really mean “no”, how will others accept that your “no” means “no”. Creating good boundaries around truth in response statements can lead to raising stronger, more assertive children, who learn that “yes means yes, no means no, wherever I am, wherever I go.”
BITSS of Say No contains several game ideas to introduce practicing “say no”. Another great idea is to have T Shirts, hats, or cups that echo the notion that “say no” is most acceptable in some situations.
Check out these groovy Tees’ from Cafepress.com. Their slogan of “Just say no” can be used for any particular issue. I would use them for assertiveness training and any sexual assault issue. In fact, I’ve ordered one to wear throughout the remainder of Sexual Violence Awareness Month.
Not interested: then just say “no!” Come on, which part of “no” don’t you understand.