What Are Some Examples of Refusal Skills?

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According to Leah Davies, M.Ed., refusal skills include the ability to say “no” repeatedly to a dangerous offer, ask questions from a person who is pushing a hazardous activity on another, provide reasons against engaging in unsafe behavior, and rely on light-hearted remarks to diffuse a tense situation. People can also change the subject, offer to switch activities, pointedly confront the person’s questionable conduct or simply choose to walk away.

Refusal skills are essential tools for children and young adults to learn so that they have multiple coping options to choose from when they are inevitably confronted with peer pressure. When children are unprepared to tell their friends “no” in dangerous situations, it is not uncommon for them to cave to their friends’ persuasions and engage in behavior that goes against common sense. Examples include being asked to do drugs, steal, fight or bully schoolmates.

A lack of assertiveness when standing up to peer pressure can create problems for people well into their adult years. For example, John Lee from Choose Help explains that recovering alcohol and drug addicts often need to develop better refusal skills during their rehabilitation so that they are able to interact with other adults in various life situations without relapsing and causing further detriment to themselves and loved ones.