One of the most respectful words in the English language is, “No.” And that’s why we need to teach our children (and, maybe, ourselves) how to say it, with conviction and without explanation.

A respectful, “No,” can be liberating for all involved because it’s honest and direct. The person saying it frees herself from whatever she doesn’t want to be involved in, and the person on the receiving end, knows where he stands. I’ve gotten better at saying, “No,” because when I do, I take responsibility for myself and for my preferences.

It’s important to remember that just because someone’s angry with us, doesn’t make us wrong. Your child has the right to say, “No.” And others have a right to be disappointed. It’s important to give people space to adjust to the idea of not getting what they want, when they want it.

It’s easy, even for adults, to feel worn down when someone is pushing hard for a, “Yes.” When people become insistent, it’s best to respond with slow, soft, short and repetitive statements like these 8 Conversation-Stopping Ways to Say, “No.” (Suggested for ordinary peer conversations and not emergency or exit strategies.)

1. No, thank you. I’d rather not.
2. I’ve changed my mind.
3. I don’t remember agreeing to that.
4. No is a complete sentence.
5. No means No.
6. Please stop.
7. I’m not sure you’re hearing me. I said No.
8. Because you’re not hearing me, I’m going to get an adult.

In addition to communicating clear boundaries, saying, “No,” can give your child a sense of empowerment and practice managing the disapproval of others. Hopefully, she’ll learn to rely less on what others think of her and, instead, take responsibility for what she thinks of herself.