Exit strategies and refusal skills are important to learn for teens so they have options and ways to get out of situation they do not want to be in. On the other hand, teaching your kids to accept it when someone says no to them is just as important. When a teen hears the word No, they may feel hurt, rejected, and unaccepted. That can create just as much angst as when a teen has to say no and feel fear that they won’t be asked again. Both sides are about fear and hurt, which can lead our kids to making poor decisions to avoid feeling those intense emotions. If we train our kids to avoid negative emotions, we don’t teach them tolerance and acceptance, which are two critical components of learning to say and accept “no”. When fear is triggered, our brains can go into survival mode, which means that we lose connections to the part of our brains that help us make good decisions and tolerate strong emotions. In teens, that part of the brain is still developing, so if they don’t have practice with learning to deal with strong emotions, they will have a really hard time if they have to say no or accept a refusal. Talk to them about refusal and consent as well as the reason why its hard to accept, so that they can start understanding and developing these skills early.
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