Articles by Paula Statman
Parenting Message Board
How do I teach my child to say "no" but still be
Were you taught that it
was OK to say "no" to your parents? Do your kids say
“no” to you? Times have changed. Haven’t they? Would you
agree that kids need to know that it’s OK to refuse
unwanted touches and inappropriate sexual behavior from
anyone, including people they know and respect? Are you
willing to teach them that?
A lot of parents say they agree with that statement
except for one word that throws them: RESPECT. Parents
are often afraid to tell their kids that adults must
earn their respect. They worry that they will end up
with children and teens who are mouthy, disrespectful or
Our aim is to help you raise kids that are well behaved
AND safe! We recommend teaching kids a safer way to show
respect to adults, especially those adults in positions
of power or authority.
The key to raising respectful and safe kids is you, the
parent. You must be willing to let go of the old idea
that children must respect all adults, period. It’s not
true. A sexual predator is never worthy of a child’s
respect, no matter who he or she is.
Nice kids show respect to all adults. Safe kids do not
show respect for adults who are acting intrusively or
inappropriately. They say, “Hey! Please don’t touch me
like that! I don’t like it!” And if the adult continues,
they tell a trusted adult what happened.
Nice kids comply with the adult or adults in charge.
Safe kids obey the adult in charge unless they are asked
to do something that feels uncomfortable or wrong. They
say, “Excuse me, I’m not sure I understand what you are
asking me to do.”
Remember, sweet, overly polite kids are not safe kids.
Children who are taught that assertive behavior is
disrespectful don't develop the social skills to respond
to potential abusers. All children are vulnerable, but
children who are too obedient or passive are more likely
to become victims. Teaching your children that it is
okay to say no to anyone who is acting inappropriately
or refuse to comply with orders that feel confusing or
wrong will help them stay safe throughout their
childhoods and the rest of their lives.