Grades 8 & 9

How Friends Fit In

In this section, students explore their relationships with others. The activities focus on peer relationships and how peer pressure, influence, and acceptance affect their lives. There are also activities on refusal skills to help equip students with strategies for saying "no."

Activity 5: When Saying “No” Is the Way to Go

  • Skills: Refusal Skills
  • Suggested Time Consideration: 30 minutes
  • Rationale

    Students need to be reminded that it sometimes takes skills to extricate themselves from uncomfortable or embarrassing situations. If, for instance, a girl is asked out on a date by a boy she has no interest in, but whose feelings she doesn’t want to hurt, she is going to want to use tact in her refusal.

    In this activity, students will practice saying “no” to their friends.

  • Getting Started

    First, display the refusal skills wall poster in the “Materials” section below. Students will also see it onscreen. Go over the tips about how to say “no” to different situations. For instance:

    • Humor can be useful: “I want to keep my pearly whites—they come in handy when meeting girls/guys.”
    • Change the subject: “Nah, I don’t want a beer. But let’s get a pizza.” Or “No thanks, I don’t want a cigarette. What happened on our favorite TV show last night?”
    • Talk about the consequences: “No, thanks. In fact, I don’t want to ever start smoking, and I’ll tell you why. I don’t want lung cancer.”
    • Reverse the pressure: “Why in the world would I want to break into that abandoned house? Why would you want to do such a dumb thing?”
    • Suggest something else: “No, I don’t want to get into your parents’ liquor cabinet, but how about going into the kitchen for something to eat?”
    • Give a convincing reason: “I’m not gonna let you copy my homework, because it’s not fair.” OR “I’d love to stay out later, but my parents have set a ridiculous curfew, and they’re really inflexible about it.”
    • Walk away.

    Share the digital activity link with students and explain that they are to decide if they will say “yes” or “no” to each situation. Let them know that as a group, you will discuss different ways of saying “no.”

    Launch Activity

  • Talking About It

    Go over your students’ answers together. In discussion, keep in mind how important it is for students of this age to “save face” and “fit in” with their peers. Try to get the students to talk about how to manage a situation in which they want to both say “no” and remain a valued member of the group.

  • Wrapping Up

    To wrap up, talk about the difference between rejecting an idea or an action (“I don’t like the idea of smoking…”) and rejecting a person (“…but that doesn’t mean I don’t like you”).

    Use the supplemental “Geek at the Party” video to complement this section.

  • Materials

“How To Say No” Set of Two posters