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Quick Connections: Dealing with “No’s” and Refusals

Dealing with “No” and Other Refusals

You’ve heard the refusals– the creative ones, the repetative ones, the simple “no’s,” and then some. “I’m tired of family events.” “I don’t want to go with you.” “I just want to stay home and play games.” “I don’t care.” And so on…⠀

Your children and teens might operate on your ideal program, schedule, or behavior from time to time. Or, ever?! Truly, this is tough! For everyone. It’s also an opportunity to problem-solve! ⠀

Stop. Breathe. Feel.

I invite you to notice the quality of your mind, body, and heart as you consider the refusals and rejections you have received recently or regularly.

Next, consider: How do you typically respond when your child or teen tells you “no” or decides they are not on board with your plan or request?

As you reflect on your typical response, keep breathing. Additionally, offer yourself the chance to seek new possibilities, while also giving yourself credit for doing your best up to this point.

Working Towards a Solution– Together!

When you have the energy for a conversation, you can engage your child or teen in developing a solution together. Sometimes, this can happen directly after the refusal. Other times, you will need to offer your child or yourself a break. When you have the energy for a negotiation, follow this sequence of questions and prompts to solve the problem together:

1. “Are you open to problem-solving this?” Obtaining permission or agreement will always result in higher engagement. Furthermore, when your teenager feels respected as a conversation partner, they will be more willing to work with you.

2. “What ideas do you have for negotiating/solving/working through this situation?” Listen. Let your child or teen share without dispute or interruption. Even if/when their ideas sound ridiculous, keep listening.

3. “I hear you. Is there anything else?” Keep listening.

4. “It sounds like you would like to _________. ” Next, repeat and reflect back what you heard. This is a crucial part of your child or teen knowing that you really listened. Pause and allow your child to correct, clarify, or add to the points you heard.

5. “Might you be willing to __________.” This is where you can offer the part of your plan that is your highest priority. You can share your expectations, hopes, and requests. As you do this, try to incorporate one of your child’s ideas or requests.

6. “What solution do you think would feel good to both of us?” The final step is working towards a solution TOGETHER. There might be some more negotiating and figuring out how to meet in the middle. Feel free to continue using the sentence starters and questions from steps 1-5 again as needed.

7. “Thank you for problem-solving with me.” Acknowledge your child for going through this process with you! Be sure to take the time to do this because you will want to replicate this process in the future, and the more empowered your teen felt this time, the more likely they are to engage next time.⠀

Moving Forward with Solutions

As you and your family work through refusals and develop solutions together, you may also want to consider and name your support systems.  Together, you can document the people, places, and things that bring each of you a sense of strength and stability.

Your unique support systems can help each family member work through problems and solutions with greater ease.

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