In a previous post I asked what parents and other care givers can do to help protect children from predators, including predators who they have been led to believe they can trust. Among the many things we can do is teach children to say no, to allow them to have no as an easy thing to say.
Those of you who deal with two year olds may believe that NO! is not something that needs teaching. But, the natural ability to say no gets weakened and even destroyed later in many children. Everyone wants their child to be good mannered and co-operative. No one wants produce a brat. And, it's important for children to do as they're told, without stubborn resistance because they need to be able to respond immediately to direction in the face of danger.
But, compliant children who do not have the right to say no, nor practice doing it, are plump and jucy pickings for predators and abusers, both in childhood, and later as adults.
If you train a girl to not be able to say no to a husband or a male authority figure you set her up for potential tragedy. She's just waiting there on the curb of the world for a predator to drive by. The same is true for boys, in many environments.
We need to teach our children, and all the children we meet, to say no. We can teach them how to decide when to say no and when to say maybe and when to say yes for now, but it's open to change. We can give them practice saying no and making it stick. We can model saying no and making it stick, without remorse, without guilt. We can teach all the ways to say no graciously, and the few they'll need to say it not so graciously.
The ability to say no is a great gift to give to a child, it's a gift that will serve them now, and throughout their life. Who do you need to help learn to say no today?