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The Art of Saying ‘No’


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The word ‘No’ means a complete and firm stop to all kinds of advances made to attain certain goals. Agreed, this small word ‘No’ at times, leads to a lot of displeasure and discontentment; however, it is of utmost importance that our children learn to use this word in their day-to-day life in a diplomatic and tactful manner to avert undesirable human actions in this modern and overcrowded challenging world.
In the days of yore, when life was simple and needs were limited, people used to live happily in the society sharing each other’s joys and sorrows because those were the tension free days and one could afford to live one’s life in a leisurely way. With the advent of science, technology and industrial revolutions, although our life has become more enjoyable, we are however required to be more diplomatic and discreet to keep pace with the modern ways of living and to face the sharp tooth of competition at every step. If we or members of our young generation fail to fulfill these requirements then we are confronted with lots of undesirable mental stresses arising out of trifle issues.
Some such stresses occur due to development of strained relations with friends and neighbors, tactless behavior of our children so on and so forth. It is therefore essential that children be trained during childhood on interpersonal relations and conflict management, and to survive peacefully in the society avoiding the destructive social strains.

Here is a very simple example. Mr. and Mrs. Choudhuri are a working couple who remain busy from morning till night. They have a cute ten year old son, Minku who generally stays at home after coming back from school. The neighbor’s wife Sheila seems to be very cordial and helpful and often visits Minku’s house when the parents are away. Sheila’s eight year old son Suman is an unruly and restless boy. He used to visit Minku’s house while his mother took her mid-day-nap. On the other hand Minku needs to finish his home assignments during this time only as he goes for tennis coaching in the evening. Minku, being a boy with very polished manners, hesitates to say ‘No’ to Suman and has to spend his valuable time in playing PS2 and watching TV. They are so much mesmerized by its spell that they sit like couch potatoes before the television set watching anything and everything that is beamed to them. Ultimately they become TV addicts. Undoubtedly this has been very damaging to his academic progress. Eventually, Minku’s parents came to know of all this and became extremely agitated, and snapped off friendly ties with the neighbor forthwith. This has unduly created a mental strain on Minku’s parents, which was otherwise really not at all called for. This could have been easily avoided had Minku been trained how to say ‘No’ in a decent way to such actions of the neighbors. Refusal in a decent and cogent manner does not affect adversely in a child’s personality development but goes a long way in his overall mental growth and is of extreme importance in grooming the child for the future.
The way a child refuses is of paramount concern. Declining a certain request from the friends, ‘no thank you’ with a smiling face will definitely be more convincing and also beneficial to the child. Hatred is a destructive and damaging emotion. While refusing something to someone, the feeling of hatred or despise must be shunned. Politely declining a certain request in a convincing manner will remove many misgivings in our day-to-day dealings and communication. Our children should cultivate some strategies how to say ‘positive no’ with polished behavior and manners.
At the same time, a child should also be trained to share the feelings of the people around society. During the time of crisis, helping the neighbors and friends is a remarkable quality. To sum up, we may say that proper strategies in saying ‘No’ helps in proper judgment and training for the future leading to a five ‘D’ life as follows:
·    Disciplined life
·    Determination to make progress
·    Discrimination of good and bad habits
·    Devotion to duty
·    Dedication

By Reena Sharma

Reena Sharma, a child psychologist, a social worker and a composer and choreographer, lives in Delhi with her husband Binoy Brata Sharma, Former Chairman and Managing Director of Oil India Ltd. - Editor.