Children begin to face the challenge of communicating with peers and family at a very young age. This can be particularly problematic when children experience peer pressure to begin using tobacco products. Children should be equipped with the proper communication skills and tactics for avoiding conflict. If students can communicate effectively, they can say no to using tobacco with confidence and become a role model for their peers.

Ask students to raise their hand if they’ve ever been misunderstood*. Ask volunteers to tell a story of a situation where they were misunderstood. Following the story or stories, ask the class for ideas on how the person telling the story could have communicated their wants/needs/desires more effectively. Do this to see how much students already know.

*Explain the term misunderstood if necessary. Use this opportunity as an example of unclear communication. You want them to answer a question, but they do not understand the vocabulary you are using. Therefore, the class and the teacher are not communicating effectively.

Students should understand that communication is not only about the words that you speak or write. Communication includes:

•Your body language

•How well you listen

•How well your actions and your words match

•Your tone of voice

When you are speaking face to face with someone, you should:

•Look them in the eye (make eye contact)

•Use a conversational tone (Do not yell or speak too quietly)

•Speak with confidence. Do not act afraid of the other person or unsure of your response(s).

•Use proper body language. Do not cross your arms, look down or away from the person you are speaking to, roll your eyes or make faces.

•Do not interrupt. Wait until the person speaking has finished.

Most important, do not say one thing and do another! If you say NO, show that you really mean NO.

Dealing with Peer Pressure: How to say NO effectively

Equation for success

Say NO with confidence + give a reason why + Make your action match your words (walk away if necessary) = Saying NO effectively

Say NO with confidence: When someone wants you to do something that you know is wrong, unhealthy or unsafe, say NO as if you really mean it. Use a firm tone without yelling.

Give a reason why: Give a specific reason why you do not want to do what you are being asked to. Show that you care about yourself enough to say NO. Expressing your opinion can be very powerful and you may be saving someone from harming themselves.

Make your actions match your words: If you say no and then proceed to participate in the action/activity that you know is wrong, your peers will not take you seriously. You will be faced with this situation time and time again. Walking away from the situation may be necessary to prove your point and avoid more pressure.

Reasons to say NO to tobacco

  1. All forms (cigarettes, chew, dip and cigars) can cause multiple health problems in the future. This includes gum disease and a variety of cancers.
  2. Smoking makes your teeth turn yellow and gives you bad breath.
  3. Smoking makes it difficult to breathe.
  4. Smoking makes it hard to be physically active.

Great ways to express your opinion about using tobacco. Simply say:

  1. NO thank you, I care about my health.
  2. NO thank you, I plan to live a very long time.
  3. NO thanks, I like to spend my money on other things.
  4. NO thanks, I don’t do things that are illegal.
  5. NO thanks, I don’t want to smell horrible when I have to go home.
  6. NO thank you, it will affect my game in soccer (football, baseball, etc) or my ability to dance, do tai chi, karate, etc.
  7. NO thanks. I know that once you start it is very hard to stop.

** Always use “I” statements. Keep the situation positive by talking about how you feel about something.

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